RPD, FBI investigating threats to Raleigh synagogue made three weeks before Jewish New Year

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

RALEIGH (WTVD) -- Local and federal law enforcement agencies are investigating a series of threats to several leaders at Temple Beth Or, one of the Triangle's largest synagogues.

The threats were received over the weekend in the mail and sent directly to the homes of nine board members and one member of the clergy, according to Temple Beth Or's Executive Director Robert Gleiberman.

The synagogue subsequently cancelled Sunday's religious school classes and at least one afternoon program.

In an email sent to Temple Beth Or's members obtained by ABC11, board president Ed Fleishman lamented, "threats against synagogues and other Jewish institutions are not uncommon; however, we take all threats seriously."

Stay on top of breaking news stories with the ABC11 News App

Fleishman added that canceling religious school was only "to err on the side of caution," and that leadership would quickly resume normal activities.

As of Monday night, all programming was to go on as scheduled.

While Temple Beth Or and investigators are not commenting on the specifics of the threat, the investigation comes month after Raleigh Police were alerted to anti-Semitic graffiti on a downtown mural.

According to the Anti-Defamation League, the number of reported anti-Semitic incidents surged nearly 60 percent between 2016 and 2017 - the largest increase ever recorded by the ADL.

"A confluence of events in 2017 led to a surge in attacks on our community - from bomb threats, cemetery desecrations, white supremacists marching in Charlottesville, and children harassing children at school," said Jonathan A. Greenblatt, ADL CEO and National Director. "These incidents came at a time when we saw a rising climate of incivility, the emboldening of hate groups and widening divisions in society. In reflecting on this time and understanding it better with this new data, we feel even more committed to our century-old mission to stop the defamation of the Jewish people, and to secure justice and fair treatment to all."

In North Carolina specifically, an ADL audit of anti-Semitic events recorded increases in both harassment and vandalism.

Among the incidents reported in 2017:

  • Asheville - Jewish high school student bullied. "I hope Hitler comes back," "You f*ing Jew," "Jew boy, I bet your dad is gay."

  • Ballantyne - Swastika painted on Jewish family's home

  • Boone - Jewish community center vandalized

  • Cary - Mannequins at Belk department store rearranged to give Nazi salute

  • Charlotte - Series of vandalism targeting Jewish family's home during the Jewish new year, including swastikas and obscenities painted on their front door