London shul’s shabbat livestream interrupted by ‘vile abuse’
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London shul’s shabbat livestream interrupted by ‘vile abuse’

Messages, suspected to have been automated, peddled the antisemitic canard that Jews control the media

Screenshot of message allegedly sent to members of North Western Reform Synagogue
Screenshot of message allegedly sent to members of North Western Reform Synagogue

A north London shul’s online shabbat service was interrupted by a stream of “vile abuse,” a congregant told Jewish News.

The member of North Western Reform Synagogue in Alyth Gardens, who did not wish to be named, said on Monday: “It was incredibly upsetting to see such vile abuse during what was up until that point a really special and moving service for everyone involved.

“I am just so sad that whoever was responsible thought this was justified, adding to the anxiety and distress of people at what is already a really challenging time.”

The messages, suspected to have been automated, were allegedly sent to some 250 members who had tuned into the video conferencing platform Zoom last Friday evening for a Kabbalat shabbat service.

Some messages allegedly peddled the antisemitic canard that Jews control the media while others contained the racist N-word.

A spokeswoman for the Metropolitan Police confirmed on Tuesday officers received reports of abusive messages being sent to people attending an online service held by a synagogue in Alyth Gardens in Barnet.

“The messages were sent during the service at approximately 18.50hrs. No arrests have been made. Enquiries continue. Anyone with information is asked to call 101,” she said.

Rabbi Josh Levy, who hosted the service, said on Monday:“The zoom-bombing of our Friday night service with abusive messages was an intrusive violation of our sacred space.  The incident has been reported to the CST and police, and we have taken steps to ensure that it will not be possible for anyone to interrupt our services like this in the future.

“One of the founding ideals of our community is that we should welcome those who wish to join us for prayer.  We will continue to do so as much as is possible during these challenging times. We recognise that many Jewish households are not members of synagogues, or are members of communities that are not able to offer online services.  We want to assure them that they are still welcome to pray and study with us.

“It is deeply upsetting that at such a difficult period we are faced with additional challenges like these.  We will be keeping the security of our online provision under review through the weeks ahead.”

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