Central Alabama Jewish Temples face bomb threat

Published 9:06 pm Wednesday, December 27, 2023

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On Dec 16, six of the seven Jewish temples in Central Alabama received bomb threats necessitating the evacuation and thorough search of each one. 

Temple Emanu-El in Dothan, Temple Mishkan Israel in Selma, Temple Beth Or in Montgomery, Jewish Federation of Central Alabama in Montgomery, Agudath Israel Etz Ahayem in Montgomery, and Congregation Beth Shalom in Auburn each received a threatening email.

District 74 member and Director of the Jewish Federation of Central Alabama, Phillip Ensler was among those forced to evacuate. 

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“This morning during Shabbat religious services — the Jewish day of rest — we had to evacuate my synagogue in Montgomery, AL due to a bomb threat,” Ensler posted to his X (Twitter) account. “This is exhausting. I pray for the day that we can worship and live in peace.”

Lisa Bachman, Executive Director of the Alabama Holocaust Education Center (AHEC) in Birmingham says that unfortunately she understands the scenario all too well. Due to threats and worries of vandalism, the center, which holds a poignant tribute to Holocaust survivors, has had to restrict entrance without an appointment. 

“On Oct. 5 we had a bomb threat here and had to be evacuated.” Bachman said. “When it was all said and done though, it actually brought everyone closer together as a community. It actually strengthens our resolve.”

Focusing on that strength, Bachman says that AHEC will continue on its mission and that her most fervent wish is for people from all backgrounds to be able to calmly communicate and learn from each other. 

“Of course there’s fear. The fear is always there,” Bachman said. “But I’ve learned that you can’t let the fear drive your life. You just have to be confident that you’ve done all you can to keep yourself safe and not let fear make your decisions.”