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October 30th, 2010
05:10 PM ET

LGBT-friendly synagogue a target of intercepted packages, leader says

The Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago says area synagogues began taking

A small Chicago synagogue dedicated to serving the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered community may have been one of the intended destinations of two packages intercepted abroad that were packed with explosive material, a co-president for the congregation said Saturday.

Or Chadash, a congregation of about 100 people, held its Sabbath services Friday with security out in full force.

"It was unnerving, [but] we carried on as normal," Or Chadash's co-president, Lilli Kornblum, told CNN.

"We do always have security when we have congregational events, however last night Chicago police were in much, much higher visibility," she said. "And we were on higher alert for people we don't know or anyone who might be carrying backpacks, packages, that sort of thing."

Kornblum said Or Chadash was notified that it was a potential target by the rabbi of Emanuel Congregation - another synagogue from which Or Chadash leases space - who received word from a source in the Chicago's Jewish community who is close to authorities.

Emanuel Congregation, however, was apparently not a target.

Earlier, Kornblum had told CNN that Emanuel Congregation's rabbi had received his information directly from authorities.

But in an interview with CNN Saturday, Emanuel Congregation's senior rabbi, Michael Zedek, said he had been notified that Or Chadash was a threat from a Chicago Jewish source "who's well connected to authorities."

Zedek said he heard from the source - who he said requested anonymity - on Friday night.

"People are asking are we frightened," Zedek told CNN, "and the truth of the matter is we're not frightened, we're saddened."

Chicago FBI spokesman Royden Rice would not confirm or deny that Or Chadash was a target.

"We notified both targets yesterday," Rice told CNN Saturday. "We always notify potential victims of crime. If they wish to reveal who they are, it's up to them."

Synagogues across metropolitan Chicago began taking "appropriate precautions" Friday after receiving warning from security officials to watch out for suspicious packages from abroad, according to a Jewish Federation spokeswoman.

President Barack Obama said that two packages that apparently contained explosive materials were bound for "two places of Jewish worship in Chicago," but did not name them.

"[We were] surprised, because we're very, very small," Kornblum said, adding that the 35-year-old synagogue had been trying to get noticed to potentially gain more congregants. "This isn't what we had in mind."

Kornblum said she's "distressed" about the apparent threat, but expressed gratitude for the authorities who were able to intercept the packages.

The Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago was contacted by federal officials Friday morning to urge the organization to be on alert for suspicious packages, spokeswoman Linda Haase said.

Lucille Price, a receptionist at Anshe Emet Synagogue, said Chicago police made them aware of the reports and asked them to keep an eye out for suspicious packages among any deliveries that arrived Friday.

But congregation leaders at two prominent Chicago synagogues, Temple Sholom and Chicago Sinai Congregation, said they were not made aware of any attempts to ship bombs or hazardous material to them.

The Anti-Defamation League, meanwhile, sent notice to Jewish organizations across the country on Friday to increase mailroom security and to immediately report suspicious activity to law enforcement.

In New York on Saturday, a police counterterrorism unit conducted a drill outside the Central Synagogue in midtown Manhattan. Members of the New York Police Department's Hercules unit, which conducted the drill, are highly trained and heavily armed.

New York has not received specific threats related to Friday's plot, NYPD Deputy Commissioner Paul Browne told CNN.

The Jewish Federation's Haase said she had not heard reports of Chicago congregations altering plans for services on Friday evening, the beginning of the Jewish Sabbath.

"Everything was fine. Services were held as usual with no signs of anxiety," said Rabbi Michael Sternfield, who leads Chicago Sinai, after services Friday night. "There is really nothing to report."

Steven Bob, the rabbi at a synagogue in the western Chicago suburbs, said Friday that he was not concerned about the exposed plot.

"We generally pay careful attention to packages coming to the synagogue, accepting only those we're expecting or from a known sender," he said. "Today we were extra careful."

Bob said that there was plenty of email and phone traffic among Chicago Jewish leaders responding to news of the plot on Friday but that he didn't think worshippers would be deterred from Friday services.

"We live in a world that contains some people that are hostile to us and we want to respond to that hostility with caution," said Bob, who leads Etz Chaim in Lombard, Illinois. "At the same time, we're not going to go hide in the basement."

"I may say a word or two about this tonight, but I don't think it's worthy of a sermon," he said Friday. "What am I going to say, that I'm opposed to terrorism?"

- CNN's Susan Candiotti, Dan Gilgoff and Ross Levitt contributed to this report.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Illinois • Judaism • United States

soundoff (143 Responses)
  1. Steven

    JESSICA WROTE...
    Jessica

    I am Jewish and have many Muslim friends and am offended that someone would generalize such a thing about an entire religion, which when followed as meant, is beautiful. It's hateful and ignorant to say that "all" hate Christians and Jews. The hating one here is you.

    REALLY, so what are they doing exactly to stop their brothers anbd sisters form blowing up innocent people exactly?
    HAVE YOU READ THE QURAN AND IF SO, HOW HAVE YOU CHALLENEGED YOURE MULSIM FRIENDS ON THE DISGUTSING AND DIVISIVE THINGS WRITTEN IN IT ABOUT JEWS????????????????? OR ANYONE ELSE THAT CRITISIZES OR DOESN NOT BELIEVE IN MOHAMMED? OR WHAT IT SAYS ABOIUT WOMEN IN GENERAL? ARE YOU REALY THIS NAIVE?

    October 31, 2010 at 11:54 pm |
    • Frogist

      @Steven: Hmm, who to side with? The one who makes a statement about the perils of generalization in reasoned capacity? Or the one who has a biased argument, can't spell and doesn't know how to use Caps Lock?

      November 1, 2010 at 4:45 pm |
    • Peace2All

      @Steven

      Jessica's post-–
      "I am Jewish and have many Muslim friends and am offended that someone would generalize such a thing about an entire religion, which when followed as meant, is beautiful. It's hateful and ignorant to say that "all" hate Christians and Jews. The hating one here is you."

      Steven, You Said......."REALLY, so what are they doing exactly to stop their brothers anbd sisters form blowing up innocent people exactly?
      HAVE YOU READ THE QURAN AND IF SO, HOW HAVE YOU CHALLENEGED YOURE MULSIM FRIENDS ON THE DISGUTSING AND DIVISIVE THINGS WRITTEN IN IT ABOUT JEWS????????????????? OR ANYONE ELSE THAT CRITISIZES OR DOESN NOT BELIEVE IN MOHAMMED? OR WHAT IT SAYS ABOIUT WOMEN IN GENERAL? ARE YOU REALY THIS NAIVE?"

      ME--How about we take the Bible and take out all of the k-i-lling, maiming, torturing, abuse, horror, terror, not to mention the 'End of Days' part of the bible where sweet loving Jesus comes back as
      'Warrior Christ' to k-i-l-l all of the non-believers and send them to 'eternal damnation.'

      After we have done this to the Bible, let's see how much is actually left. Hmmm...?

      Both books taken out of context by either side can be used and interpreted as justification for all of the horror's in the world.

      A little bit one-sided are we...?

      November 1, 2010 at 4:58 pm |
  2. Steven

    Kelly Garrett wrote...
    "Some Jews joined the Nazi party..." and "bla bla bla bla bla"
    LISTEN UP HONEY, GET THE FACTS STRAIGHT AND STOP TWISTING THEM AROUND
    THERE WERE APPROXIMATELY 5 FAMILIES THAT ATTEMPOTED THIS AS A WAY TO GET A BUSINESS LISCENCE AND KEEP THEIR FAMILIES FED, AND THAT'S IT, IT WAS AN ACTY OF DESPERATION AND AN ATTENMPT TO SAVE THEIR OWN LIVES FROM THE NAZIS...INCIDENMT;Y, FOR TRYING IT, THEY WERRE EXECUTED...
    YOU NEED TO GET YOUR FACTS STARIGHT BEFORE TALKING ABOUT SOMETHING LIKE YOU KNOW WHAT YOU ARE TALKING ABOUT WHEN THE TRUTH IS YOU 100% DO NOT HAVE A CLUE WHAT THE F" YOU ARE IN FACT TALKING ABOUT !!!

    October 31, 2010 at 11:51 pm |
    • Kelly Garrett

      Chill dude. That was my point, that things are not as they look. My next door neighbor is a survivor of Auschwitz...he has stories of more than just 5 families, but the number does not matter. It was done not for what it looked like on the face of it...it was done for survival.

      November 1, 2010 at 6:31 pm |
  3. NoSuchThingAsAnOpinion

    Do rational people tend to wonder what someone who placed 74th in the world in intelligence thinks about everyday issues? NoSuchThingAsAnOpinion nosuchthingasanopinion.weebly.com/no-such-thing-as-an-opinion.html

    October 31, 2010 at 3:34 pm |
    • Yeah

      Sure... I'm working my way to you after I read the first 73.

      October 31, 2010 at 3:45 pm |
  4. cb420

    "American authorities are now endorsing British Prime Minister David Cameron's position that the explosives were designed to take down an airplane, the official said" – So if you want to hide a bomb in the international post to take down a plane the best thinking is to address it to a Jewish place of worship. Man that is a lame. They are so going to get busted and exposed on this one. Obama mentions explosives and now this is the false flag from hell. Ha ha.

    October 31, 2010 at 1:32 pm |
  5. Muneef

    Good friends are like stars, you don’t always see them –
    but you know they are there. 
    http://www.realzionistnews.com/?p=60

    October 31, 2010 at 3:23 am |
  6. Art

    As long as Life exists, there can be no Peace. We are incapable of long term co-existance. We fuss and fight and argue untill we finally just kill each other. I finally understand why some people take themselves out....... They realize there IS no solution with mankind, or ANY form of Life. The only true Peace is Death. Now isn't that a Cheerful thought !

    October 31, 2010 at 1:58 am |
    • DanW

      Art. That is just sick, dude. There is always HOPE.

      October 31, 2010 at 2:13 am |
  7. shiko

    test

    October 31, 2010 at 1:37 am |
  8. Chaz

    They weren't targeted because of LGBT advocacy.

    They were targeted because they were Jewish.

    I can't believe this is serious journalism.

    October 31, 2010 at 12:47 am |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.