Threat leads St. Louis Park synagogue to cancel in-person services | KSTP.com

Threat leads St. Louis Park synagogue to cancel in-person services

Rebecca Omastiak
Updated: September 10, 2021 06:31 PM
Created: September 10, 2021 11:58 AM

A threat of violence has led a St. Louis Park synagogue to temporarily close.

A 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS crew at the scene confirmed with Matt Walzer, Beth El Synagogue's managing director, that there will be no in-person services Friday or Saturday. The closure also affected Aleph Preschool.

The threat comes amid the community's observance of the High Holy Days — the faith's most important period.

According to a city spokesperson, the police department was notified of a threat of violence received on an online messaging platform involving a synagogue in the 5200 block of Barry Street in St. Louis Park. The unidentified sender of the message indicated people could be harmed at a religious service set to occur Friday evening at the named place of worship.

Congregation members were notified by email that the Anti-Defamation League's Midwest office, in Chicago, received a threat directed at Beth El Synagogue. There were indications that the threat may have come from the Twin Cities area, Walzer noted in the email.

"There are pathological, malicious anti-Semites who do things like send threats," said Steve Hunegs, executive director of the Jewish Community Relations Council in Minnesota. "The community will remain vigilant and calm. Those are the watchwords of the day."

Online services are still being offered via the synagogue's website.

Police have been and will continue to be in the area of the synagogue through Friday night into Saturday morning to monitor the situation. Authorities are continuing to investigate.

"Our police department and the Jewish community in St. Louis Park have developed over the years a tight, tight relationship and coordination around these sorts of threats," said St. Louis Park Mayor Jake Spano. "All of our neighborhoods, all of our community are engaged in trying to support this community and our police to find out more about what happened and make sure they can get back to life as normal as possible."

Stay with 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS and KSTP.com for updates on this developing news.


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