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Five Colorado Synagogues Subject to “Hoax” Bomb Threats

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By Katie Langford and Lauren Penington
The Denver Post

(The Denver Post) Five Colorado synagogues were among the hundreds of Jewish institutions across the United States that received “hoax” bomb threats over the weekend, according to the Anti-Defamation League and Secure Community Network. online news

Synagogues in Denver, Boulder, Colorado Springs and Morrison received threats, ADL Mountain States Regional Director Scott Levin said Wednesday.

The organization has seen reports of antisemitism triple since the Oct. 7 attack by Hamas in Israel, Levin said.

“The bomb threats take away from the work of law enforcement and come at a time when the Jewish community is already feeling beleaguered and anxious,” Levin said in a statement. “These hateful antisemitic swatting attacks and bomb threats against our religious and cultural institutions, which are the mainstays of Jewish life in America, are particularly painful.”

The Anti-Defamation League reported about 400 false threats in the United States, according to CNN, while Jewish security group Secure Community Network announced in a news release it had tracked nearly 200 false threats over a 24-hour period this weekend.

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The group has tracked more than 449 swatting incidents in 2023, up from 83 reports in 2022, according to the Saturday news release.
The recent threats are believed to be connected and originate from outside of the country, CNN reported.

Rabbi Rick Rheins of Denver’s Temple Sinai said he learned of the threats when police arrived at the synagogue before Saturday morning services.

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A Denver police officer coordinated with the synagogue’s armed guards to sweep the building, Rheins said.

Rheins credited the officer’s quick work to help the synagogue feel secure and not create false alarm.

“They wanted to make sure that the premises were secure, that we were safe and that we did not create any hysteria or fear that was unfounded,” Rheins said. “That would just be what the terrorists wanted. They wanted to create fear and we didn’t want to buy into it.”

Congregation Har HaShem in Boulder was also notified of the threats on Saturday morning through local police, said Rabbi Fred Greene.

Police arrived as congregants were gathering for a Torah study group before service and told them that there was a threat and while police didn’t believe it was credible, they needed to evacuate and search the building.

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“I think for folks who are Jewish, right now they’re feeling very vulnerable and concerned and simultaneously there are many seeking out Jewish community and Jewish spaces for support and fellowship,” Greene said. “We continued our religious school program that following day because I think it’s important for us to show up for each other, and people did.”

The FBI is aware of the hoax incidents nationally and in Colorado, said Denver Field Office spokesperson Vikki Migoya.

“The FBI takes hoax threats very seriously because it puts innocent people at risk. While we have no information to indicate a specific and credible threat, we will continue to work with our local, state and federal law enforcement partners to gather, share and act upon threat information as it comes to our attention,” Migoya said in a statement.

Rheins said he didn’t want to give publicity to “purveyors of hatred and fear.”

“We don’t want people to think Denver’s a hotbed of hatred, because it’s not,” he said. “We have to stand strong but vigilant at the same time.”

©2023 MediaNews Group, Inc. Visit at denverpost.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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