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Alabama Synagogue ‘Zoombombed’ During Virtual Pre New Year Services


Rabbi Scott Kramer on Saturday evening was preparing to introduce the High Holy Days, a time for reflection, repentance and atonement as Rosh Hashanah approaches. 

The rabbi, of synagogue Agudath Israel Etz Ahayem, began the call at 7:30 p.m. with about 50 congregants from communities across Montgomery, Auburn, Dothan and Mobile; it was one of the few times he held the meeting by Zoom.

A short time after the meeting began, at least two or three unknown people popped into the meeting. The rabbi thinks it was closer to six or seven, but can’t be sure. Much to their shock, the members were bombarded with antisemitic imagery and iconography. 

“Screens came up of very shocking imagery of Hitler, swastikas and I thought some pornographic images,” he said. “It was chaotic. Then voices came in screaming at everyone using bad language, antisemitic language, telling us ‘you should go back to the showers,’ which is of course a reference to the Holocaust.”

Micki Beth Stiller, a board of trustee member at Temple Beth Or, was on the call when the chaos began. 

“All of a sudden, in the middle of the service, comes this stuff on the line,” she said. “All of a sudden, clips of Hitler, the N-word, ‘f—-t Jew’ and disparaging things coming on the screen. At one point, just as the Mobile rabbi was getting starting to say something, there was a direct attack on him.”

The harassment went on for nearly 10 minutes before Rabbi Kramer was able to shut down the call, ending the horror that was flashing before their eyes. Trying to salvage the situation, the rabbi restarted the call to check on the members and to continue honoring the High Holy Days. 

Shortly after the incident, Phillip Ensler, President of the Jewish Federation of Central Alabama, emailed members of the Federation condemning the actions of the hackers and reminding congregants that “antisemitism and bigotry are not threats of the distant past, but a harsh reality that we must vigilantly guard against everyday.”