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St. Thomas Stands in Solidarity with Jewish Community Amid Threat

A “specific threat of violence” was directed at Beth El Synagogue in St. Louis Park Friday, Sept. 10, just ahead of its Sabbath services. Beth El is the pulpit location of Rabbi Avi Olitzky, one of the new religious leaders serving St. Thomas students, faculty and staff this fall through Campus Ministry and the Office for Mission.  

“We deplore all acts of violence and threats of violence against our brothers and sisters of the Jewish faith,” said Father Lawrence Blake, St. Thomas chaplain and director of Campus Ministry. 

Wednesday evening, Sept. 15, begins the fast day of Yom Kippur, also known as the Day of Atonement in the Jewish faith. It is the holiest day of the Jewish religion, following Rosh Hashanah, the observance of Judaism’s new year, which began at sundown on Monday, Sept. 6. 

“Campus Ministry is deeply committed to recognizing and respecting religious differences within our community,” Blake said. 

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The incident targeting Beth El was reported in local and national news media, including the Star Tribune. The paper also reported on vandalism that occurred the same weekend at a Jewish cemetery in St. Paul. 

Several community leaders and organizations reacted to the incident on social media, such as Jewish Community Action stating that they "are appalled by this antisemitic threat" and Gov. Tim Walz saying "this type of hate and division has no place here."