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Anti-Semites break into Zoom prayer services for Alabama Jews

Anonymous disrupters share Holocaust imagery, hurl abuse at participants during Selichot session, says Rabbi Scott Kramer, calling violation a ‘gut punch’

Jewish men and women praying together for forgiveness (Selichot), at the Western Wall in the Old City of Jerusalem, September 24, 2014.(Photo credit: Noam Revkin Fenton/FLASH90)
Jewish men and women praying together for forgiveness (Selichot), at the Western Wall in the Old City of Jerusalem, September 24, 2014.(Photo credit: Noam Revkin Fenton/FLASH90)

JTA — Holocaust imagery interrupted a videoconference on Zoom for some Alabama Jews to say the Selichot prayers and prepare for the High Holidays.

Some 50 congregants from Montgomery, Auburn, Dothan and Mobile were on the call with rabbis on Saturday night when at least two or three unknown people joined the meeting, the Montgomery Advertiser reported.

They began to share their screens with images of “Hitler, swastikas and I thought some pornographic images,” the call’s leader, Rabbi Scott Kramer of Agudath Israel Etz Ahayem in Montgomery, told the newspaper.

“It was chaotic. Then voices came in screaming at everyone using bad language, anti-Semitic language, telling us ‘you should go back to the showers,’ which is of course a reference to the Holocaust,” the rabbi said.

Screen capture from video of Rabbi Scott Kramer of Agudath Israel Etz Ahayem in Montgomery. (YouTube)

Kramer said the group has been meeting long distance for several months and had not had any other incidents of so-called Zoom-bombing.

“It was shocking to me. For 72 years, nothing like this has ever occurred to me,” Micki Beth Stiller, a board member at Temple Beth Or, told the newspaper. “It was just stunning. It feels like you’ve been violated.”

The harassment continued for about 10 minutes until the rabbi was able to end the call. Kramer later restarted the videoconference, but the harassers returned. Eventually they were kicked off, leaving everyone crying, including the rabbi. He called the incident a “gut punch.”

Kramer called the Montgomery Police but was redirected to the FBI.

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