Graffiti Targets Temple Israel, But ‘There Isn’t A Major Threat,’ Rabbi says

A graffitied threat was found against Temple Israel on the night of April 15, scrawled onto a bus stop bench amid an antisemitic and homophobic rant that included the phrase “Jews UR going to lose.”

In response, the synagogue cancelled in-person programming for April 16, with childhood education moving to a Zoom class.

“We took all of the considerations from different people, from JCRC, from our staff, and then we came up with the decision,” said Rabbi Marcia Zimmerman, senior rabbi at Temple Israel.

“It’s all about an abundance of caution…it’s frustrating because just the idea of pausing Jewish education because of an antisemitic incident [is absurd], that is the antidote to antisemitic incidents: encouraging our children to be proud and have Jewish knowledge.”

Law enforcement told Temple Israel leadership about the graffiti, but it took time to check how seriously to take the threat.

“While it named Temple, so that was kind of what elevated it, [it seems] like there isn’t a major threat,” Zimmerman said. “Which we weren’t sure [on Sunday]…but we just didn’t want to bring in hundreds of kids to an unknown.”

Zimmerman and Rabbi Tobias Moss, also of Temple Israel, are currently in Israel for the Minneapolis Jewish Federation’s Experience Israel 2023 mission. But they jumped on the Zoom for the synagogue’s childhood education program to talk about resilience. “They’re using words to hurt, but we’re going to use words to heal,” Zimmerman told the children.

Metro Transit Police first found the threat at a bus stop in the Lyn-Lake neighborhood of Minneapolis. Since then, the graffiti has been removed.

In making security considerations, Temple Israel is coordinating with the Minneapolis Police Department and the Jewish Community Relations Council of Minnesota and the Dakotas.