As Texas synagogue hostage situation unfolded, Jewish community worried, prayed and sought solidarity
As the hostage situation at a synagogue near Fort Worth, Texas, continued into Saturday night, Jewish leaders shared calls for solidarity and prayers for the hostages and their community.
I’m monitoring the situation at Congregation Beth Israel in Colleyville, Texas.
I’m praying for a peaceful resolution, for those being held, for the first responders, for Congregation Beth Israel, and for the Jewish community in Colleyville.
— Chuck Schumer (@SenSchumer) January 15, 2022
A man took four people hostage in Colleyville’s Congregation Beth Israel late Saturday morning, professing to be the brother of Aafia Siddiqui, who is serving an 86-year sentence in a facility near the synagogue. Siddiqui, a relative by marriage of Khalid Sheikh Muhammad, a primary organizer of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, is serving time for an attempt on the lives of American military personnel after her 2008 arrest in Afghanistan on suspicion of planning attacks in New York.
Just after 7:30 Eastern time, one of the hostages was released, uninjured. Texas governor Greg Abbott announced just after 10:30 that the other three, including the synagogue’s rabbi, Charlie Cytron-Walker, had been successfully rescued and were safe.
Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson shared that the city was taking extra precautions to secure Jewish sites in the area. While the man, who was reportedly armed, is believed to have made bomb threats, Michael Masters, director of the Secure Community Network — which offers security consultations to Jewish organizations — said his team had not found credible threats to other synagogues.
As a precaution, @DallasPD is deploying additional patrols to Dallas synagogues and other sites. Police are working with the Jewish Federation and our local, state, and federal partners to monitor any concerns or threats based on the situation in Colleyville.
— Mayor Eric Johnson (@Johnson4Dallas) January 15, 2022
Jewish organizations and leaders in Texas, as well as across the country and world, shared on social media that they were monitoring the situation and praying for those within the synagogue. But as the country awaited a resolution to the ongoing situation, many abstained from offering further comments.
The Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas is actively monitoring the situation at Congregation Beth Israel in Colleyville where a gunman has taken hostages. See statement: https://t.co/hUVafSuf6e pic.twitter.com/Ye6IOLkvm8
— Jewish Fed Dallas (@JewishDal) January 15, 2022
We are closely monitoring reports of a possible hostage situation unfolding at Beth Israel Synagogue in Colleyville, Texas. We are praying for a swift and peaceful outcome.
— B’nai B’rith Int’l (@BnaiBrith) January 15, 2022
Reports of an ongoing hostage situation during Shabbat services at Congregation Beth Israel in Colleyville, Texas. Law enforcement are on the scene.
Our thoughts are with all those inside as we hope for a peaceful resolution to this dangerous situation. https://t.co/jbLSo2APRX
— WJC (@WorldJewishCong) January 15, 2022
Our hearts are breaking as we close this Shabbat. We pray for the safety of the Congregation Beth Israel community and a peaceful resolution. pic.twitter.com/976puiSMvG
— Hillel (@HillelIntl) January 15, 2022
Elected officials, including Jewish senator Jacky Rosen and Jewish representatives Jerry Nadler, Jamie Raskin, Lee Zeldin and Josh Gottheimer, weighed in as well.
I am horrified by the reported hostage situation at Congregation Beth Israel in Texas. I am closely monitoring the situation and pray that law enforcement can bring this to a swift and peaceful end. https://t.co/kIbKB5QiMO
— Senator Jacky Rosen (@SenJackyRosen) January 15, 2022
Praying for Congregation Beth Israel and the Colleyville Jewish community. My thoughts are with the hostages and hostage negotiators, and I dearly hope that they can bring this situation to a peaceful resolution.https://t.co/n4jBGPSARJ
— Rep. Nadler (@RepJerryNadler) January 15, 2022
I’m closely following the horrific situation at Beth Israel Synagogue in Texas. The FBI and local law enforcement are reportedly in contact with the suspect. My fervent hopes for rescue and safety are with each of the congregants and their families.
— Rep. Jamie Raskin (@RepRaskin) January 15, 2022
Please say a prayer wherever you are for the Rabbi and other reported hostages at Congregation Beth Israel in Texas.
— Lee Zeldin (@RepLeeZeldin) January 15, 2022
Devastating situation at Beth Israel in Colleyville, TX, where synagogue members are being held hostage while attending Shabbat services. I am praying for them and their families, and thank law enforcement for their quick response.
— Rep Josh Gottheimer (@RepJoshG) January 15, 2022
Some drew a connection between the situation and other recent antisemitic attacks on Jewish communal spaces, especially the 2018 Tree of Life massacre in Pittsburgh, Pa.
Pittsburgh, Poway, Jersey City, and now Colleyville, must not become the “new normal” for our community. 3/3
— Conf Of Presidents (@Conf_of_Pres) January 15, 2022
Jews across America are watching the news from Texas and thinking the same thing:
It could have been my synagogue.
It could have been my children’s Jewish school.
It could have been our Jewish community center.
— Avi Mayer (@AviMayer) January 16, 2022
Please please pray with me that the hostage situation in a synagogue in Texas will not become another mass slaughter like Pittsburgh.
The time to defend Jews and our humanity was years ago. How many of us have to die for the world to care?
— Hen Mazzig (@HenMazzig) January 15, 2022
And some remembered that Cytron-Walker had himself shared powerful words after the tragedy at the Tree of Life.
Journalist Lauren Zakalik, who reported on a memorial service Congregation Beth Israel held for the 11 victims of the massacre, particularly remembered Cytron-Walker’s perspective on the long impact of such tragedies: “Jewish tradition tells us that when we see tragedy, we come together,” he told her.
“Jewish tradition tells us that when we see tragedy, we come together,” Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker told me in 2018, when #congregationbethisrael held an event to honor the Pittsburgh victims. Praying for the rabbi & his own congregation right now. https://t.co/UgvRxvHFyA
— Lauren (@wfaalauren) January 15, 2022
And a Facebook post that Cytron-Walker published after that event also began to circulate, shared by organizations like Bend the Arc.
“The love and support has to continue for all of us. When it comes to hatred and violence, we all must stand together.”
Powerful words from Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker of Congregation Beth Israel, currently being held hostage, after the shooting at Tree of Life three years ago. https://t.co/4npL2QOfpU
— Bend the Arc: Jewish Action (@jewishaction) January 16, 2022
“When it comes to hatred and violence,” he wrote, “we all must stand together.”