Dallas Synagogues’ Online Tisha B’Av Service Zoom-Bombed with Anti-Semitic Messages

August 3, 2020

A group of Orthodox synagogues in Dallas, Texas held a combined virtual Tisha B’Av prayer service on Zoom that was disrupted by an anti-Semite who sent messages calling for violence against Jews and the State of Israel, the Algemeiner reported.

The morning prayer services had around 100 participants when at 10:30am, someone joined the online service and began sending hateful messages on the screen to all of the participants. The messages included “Bomb Israel,” “Free Palestine,” “Hail Hitler,” and “Kill All Jews.” The anti-Semite who sent these messages also displayed a swastika on the screen, along with “F*ck Judaism.” In addition to sending anti-Semitic messages, the perpetrator also shared hateful remarks targeting Hindus and African Americans, according to Rabbi Ariel Racovsky of Congregation Shaare Tefilla, one of the synagogues that hosted the prayer service.

Social media influencer and Shaare Tefilla congregant Elizabeth Savetsky shared a video of the Zoom-bombing incident to her followers on Instagram. In the Instagram video, the user who sent the messages did so under the username “Andrew Rodriguez.”

When speaking to The Algemeiner, Savetsky said, “On the saddest day of the Jewish calendar, our community was reminded just how present hate is towards the Jewish people when our virtual prayer service was hijacked by people spewing horrific antisemitic comments. There were children in attendance. The threat no longer looms in the distance, but it is in our own backyard. We feel violated but we will not stand down.”

Savetsky noted that her Instagram footage had been shared over 4,000 times by Jews allies “who are not willing to tolerate this kind of hate.” “I hope we continue to see the Jewish people speak out against antisemitism in all its forms and stand together in solidarity.”

After the hateful messages appeared, the virtual prayer service was shut down and the synagogues began a second Zoom conference without the anti-Semitic participant. According to Rabbi Racovsky, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) were notified of the incident, which is being looked into as a federal hate crime.

Rabbi Racovsky said the timing of the incident was fitting in light of Tisha B’Av. “These awful people did us a service. They helped us make our Tisha B’Av much more real. If Tisha B’Av was something you couldn’t relate to, if you were on the call this morning, suddenly you could relate much better to Tisha B’Av.”

Tisha B’Av is the saddest day on the Jewish calendar. During the holiday, Jews fast to commemorate a number of disasters in history, principally the destruction of the first and second temples in Jerusalem.

In a message to his community, Rabbi Racovsky said, “Even as we confront our enemies, we are going to succeed. We are going to emerge stronger. he We are going to triumph in the face of our adversaries. All of the people that want to destroy us, denigrate us and humiliate us, they will not succeed. And they will have to live with the poison and hatred in their souls while we move forward with the Torah in ours…We are going to succeed and emerge stronger as a result of this. No one who tries to Zoom‐bomb us or actually bomb us, or destroy us in any way is ever going to succeed.”

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Category:United States