INDIANAPOLIS — The Jewish Community Relations Council is urging Indy synagogues, Jewish schools and community centers to stay vigilant following an incident over the weekend.
Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department officers arrested Ruba Almaghtheh, 34, after they say she drove her car into what she thought was a Jewish school on Friday night.
The building is actually used by an extreme sect of the Black Hebrew Israelites, which is defined as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. Jewish leaders and security experts in Indiana said although this failed attack was misdirected, it doesn’t change their level of concern.
”There is an unknown in terms of how long this heightened state will exist,” Brad Swim, a Regional Security Advisor with the Secure Community Network, said.
Swim said in October of this year, antisemitic incidents nationwide were up 200% compared to the same time last year.
”It could be cyber-phishing attempts that are specifically targeting the Jewish community, it could be protests that are calling for the end of Israel, it could be campus harassment,” Swim said. “So, all those things, unfortunately, we’re seeing.”
Other local leaders echoed this sentiment.
”The statistics are alarmingly high,” Troy Fears, the Executive Director of the CANDLES Holocaust Museum and Education Center, said.
Fears said since Oct. 7, 2023, the museum has seen seven instances of online harassment which has prompted the center to review its safety plans.
”Ever since the events of October 7, the Secure Community Network has done a weekly phone call to a variety of Jewish organizations and museums like ourselves,” Fears said.
Another Indiana leader said that Hoosiers are uncomfortable with the rise in antisemitism.
”It’s definitely bringing a sense of discomfort and fear to local Jewish people,” Rabbi Levi Danow of the Fort Wayne Chabad Jewish Center said.
Rabbi Danow said the synagogue has brought in law enforcement to act as security for several recent events.
”We have brought more visible security to deter anyone that would want to do something bad and that’s what we’re going to continue doing in our future events,” Rabbi Danow said.
The Indiana Attorney General’s Office said since October 7, it has not received any calls concerning antisemitic incidents.