Newington Temple Endures Anti-Semitic ‘Zoom Bomb' During Online Service

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Pictures of swastikas and other anti-Semitic imagery flooded a Newington temple’s online service Friday.

Right now, police are looking to find who created the disturbing, so-called “Zoom bomb” disruption during the Temple Sinai’s Shabbat.  

“They put up a caricature of the Jew with a big nose. It was just so upsetting,” said Temple Sinai Rabbi Jeffrey Bennett, describing just some of the hateful messaging.

Bennett believes there were more than 200 people participating in the service at the time.

He said attendance has almost tripled during the coronavirus crisis from what they used to have in person.

“It’s just so horrible and hateful. I just can’t imagine that someone would take the effort to actually track us down,” said Temple Sinai President of the Board of Trustees Jill Dulitsky.

Connecticut State Police Cyber Unit said while much gathering has gone online during the coronavirus, they have received multiple reports of "zoombombing.”

Troopers are urging the public to up their cybersecurity to prevent these incidents, taking steps like “Enabling a passcode, not sharing that passcode publicly, requiring participants to register,” advised Trooper First Class Kate Cummings.

In a statement, Zoom said in part, that the company "strongly condemns such behavior.” In addition, they say they have recently updated default settings and added extra features to help the host with security.

“As our lives move online, so do hateful people. The good news is that we have seen this happen before and have taken steps to protect our communities,” said Andy Friedland, the associate regional director of the Anti-Defamation League.

The incident was reported to the Anti-Defamation League, who said sadly, there’s still a lot of change that needs to take place in the world.

And while police continue to investigate, Temple Sinai said they’re updating their security policies and they’ll continue with their COVID-19 online services, as they did just moments after they received the anti-Semitic messages.

“There will always be a risk online, but the risk for us is worth it because it brings us together. We know who we are and we know there is plenty of hatred out there and we are strong and we are going to overcome this,” said Bennett.

The temple said they’ve received a huge showing of support from the community since the hateful incident.

Temple Sinai members aren’t letting the hate of one impact their faith in humanity.

“I think this has really brought out that there’s way more love than hate,” said Dulitsky.

For parents, caregivers, and group leaders, CT State Police suggest the below resources for cyber safety. You can also reach out them to speak to your organization about this topic too.

Parent Resources: Distance Learning Safety

Connecticut State Police Resources
Twitter: @CT_State_Police
Instagram: @CT_State_Police

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