Holding Antisemites Accountable.

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Massachusetts Man Taken into Custody after Pledging Violence against Local Jewish Community

A man has been arrested by Longmeadow Police following the circulation of a threatening video targeting the Jewish community.

This adds to the growing number of antisemitic incidents happening across the country, and 22News spoke with local leaders within the Jewish faith, who say they still remain resilient in the face of adversity.

“We have to focus on being protected, being safe. At the same time, we cannot go into hiding. We have to be proud of who we are.”- Rabbi Noach Kosofsky, Lubavitcher Yeshiva Academy.

The video, which surfaced on social media, depicted a man making hateful remarks while standing in front of the sign of the Jewish Community Center (JCC) on Converse Street in Longmeadow. According to police, the individual, identified as Saifaldeen Fawzi of West Springfield, was seen brandishing what appeared to be a firearm, making threats, and spitting on the JCC sign.

Fawzi was arrested Monday morning, and faces several charges:

  • Threat of Destruction to a Place of Worship/Community Center
  • Disorderly Conduct
  • Threat Concerning the Location of a Dangerous Item
  • Threat to Commit a Crime

During the arrest, law enforcement recovered what was initially believed to be a firearm. However, upon further investigation, it was determined to be a “blank gun” and not a real firearm.

Chief Robert Stocks of the LPD emphasized the department’s commitment to the safety and protection of all religious communities, stating, “Swift and immediate action will be taken to identify and hold accountable anyone threatening our community with hateful actions.” He commended the officers for their diligent efforts in apprehending Fawzi and expressed gratitude to the District Attorney’s Office for their ongoing support in the case.

As the Jewish community worldwide prepares to observe Passover, local leaders encourage followers to use the message of the holiday to continue hoping for a better future. Rabbi Kosofsky added, “When these incidents happen, I have to shrug it off. I have to move forward. I have to lead a community and make people feel hopeful and feel that they have something that is precious. It’s a gift that they have. The Jewish nation continues to be resilient and continues to survive and thrive.”

“It’s really important that the Jewish community continues to be vigilant you know being aware of what’s going on around them. Especially right now with the holiday of Passover coming up that everybody feel’s safe to go in and out of Synagogue and other Jewish institutions throughout the region.” -Bobby Naimark, Jewish Federation of Western Massachusetts

Following his arrest, Fawzi was held on $25,000 bail and subsequently arraigned in Springfield District Court on Tuesday, April 16. To learn more about the Jewish Federation’s SecureMass program, created to ensure the safety and resiliency of our community, you can click here.

The incident underscores the importance of vigilance and cooperation in combating hate crimes and ensuring the safety of all members of the community.