The Shmooze

Chicago LGBT Synagogue Was Alleged Target of Explosive Packages

By Michael Kaminer

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Rabbi Michael Zedek of Emmanuel Congregation teaches a Torah class.

A gay and lesbian synagogue in Chicago was a target of explosive-laden packages from Yemen intercepted by authorities over the weekend, The Wall Street Journal has reported. Or Chadash, a 100-member congregation whose web site identifies it as “the Chicagoland synagogue serving lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender/transsexual Jews, their families, friends and loved ones,” is housed within the Reform temple Emanuel Congregation on the shores of Lake Michigan. A children’s day school also shares the space.

“We’re rather puzzled at how a little congregation like ours would get on the radar as a target for somebody,” Rabbi Larry Edwards told the Journal. “I’m hoping for more information.”

Or Chadash held its Shabbat services as usual, albeit with heightened security, co-president Lili Kornbloom told YnetNews. “We are continuing as usual but with added vigilance,” she said.

Meanwhile, the Journal reports that Congregation Emanuel’s web site had received 83 hits in one day from someone in Egypt. “I think we’re interesting, but not that interesting,” Rabbi Michael Zedek said. Still, he hadn’t bothered notifying authorities about the Egyptian fan as of this weekend. “We are planning on sharing it,” he told the Journal.

Rabbi Zedek’s Saturday sermon alluded to the plot, the Journal said. “Every so often, religious fanaticism will rear its ugly head,” he said. “It is alas the case that we live in a dangerous world…but we cannot simply get used to it.”

In an interview with the Ottawa Citizen, Rabbi Edwards expressed a slightly more sanguine sentiment. “We are a small congregation and I would describe the reaction as one of determination not to let this get to us.”


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