The Rabbinical Alliance of America—Igud HaRabbonim, representing over 950 American rabbis—calls upon our nation’s elected officials and law enforcement officers to exercise vigilance in protecting synagogues and Jewish communities across North America in the wake of the terror attack at Congregation Beth Israel, in Colleyville, Texas. On Saturday, January 15, 2022, a gunman disrupted religious services, held five people including the rabbi hostage, and began a standoff with police that lasted for more than ten hours. Thanks to the efforts of law enforcement, all the hostages were safely released on Saturday night.

Regarding this terrifying incident, President Joe Biden said, “We are sending love and strength to the members of Congregation Beth Israel, Colleyville, and the Jewish community. There is more we will learn in the days ahead about the motivations of the hostage taker. But let me be clear to anyone who intends to spread hate — we will stand against anti-Semitism and against the rise of extremism in this country. That is who we are, and tonight, the men and women of law enforcement made us all proud.”

Rabbi Mendy Mirocznik, executive vice-president of the Rabbinical Alliance of America stated, “It takes an evil, sick mind to enter a house of worship and take a rabbi and congregants hostage. The innocent hostages woke up Saturday morning and peacefully assembled in their synagogue with one objective — to pray and engage in religious expression, a fundamental constitutional right bestowed on all Americans. What started as a normal peaceful Shabbat day should never have ended in violence, terror nor hostage-taking.

“As Jewish Americans, our rights have been violated and our sense of security at our synagogues and communities has been breached by those seeking to undermine what it means to be an American. An American is a peace-loving person who respects the great diversity of people who call this great nation home, who understands and cherishes the values of freedom and justice to all. This act of terrorism, in its intolerance and violent coercion, reflects the opposite of American values. In response, this country needs to reinforce its commitment to safety and freedom for religious exercise and expression.

“The response of law enforcement and government officials, from President Biden to Governor Abbott to local law and enforcement and the FBI, is to be commended. They demonstrated that they understand not only the gravity of the immediate situation but the potential long term implications of this terrorist act to the Jewish community across the country. This hostage situation is another sad and tragic example of antisemitism, hate and bigotry on the rise. 

“The Rabbinical Alliance of America, in light of this horrific example of the hatred Jews face every day, once again calls upon our elected officials and law enforcement to continue with increased diligence their fight against these hate crimes. We further urge the strengthening of education against antisemitism and the vigorous apprehension and prosecution of all those involved in these criminal acts. The only way to uproot, eradicate and control hate is by sending a clear and resounding message that hate against one group is hate against all Americans. We must take all necessary and legal steps to hold accountable all those responsible for hate crimes. 

“As America prepares to celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, we further urge the public to take advantage of the teachings, vision and dream of this iconic American leader and to take out the time to engage in acts of kindness and charity. Let us — by deed and action — eradicate hate by increasing love and understanding through helping strangers, friends and fellow Americans in positive and meaningful interactions. Allow us to spread love and kindness and by doing so we will help to create the world in which we want to live. Through these efforts, we will take the steps to paint the mural of what America means to the majority of good people who live in this wonderful blessed land. This is a land of kindness, benevolence, acceptance and tolerance; by our acts, we will make it so.”

We pray that He who brings peace in His heaven bring peace in His world and help inspire all those who harbor hate, evil and bigotry in their hearts to see the error in their ways and to channel their negativity into a positive action to make this world a better place for all people.