April 2, 2020
The picture above is alleged to be a family who attended the meeting holding up a sign of peace while reading the abuse in the group chat.
What you can see in the look on their faces is not peace, however.
A synagogue service being held online has been hijacked by racist accounts which posted anti-Semitic abuse to congregants, the BBC has learned.
The meeting was being held on video chat app Zoom.
“Zoombombing” – where uninvited guests enter meetings – is on the rise as more people use the app to stay in touch during the coronavirus restrictions.
Zoombombing Jews should be called zoomgassing instead.
The zoomgassing of this synagogue comes after the zoomgassing of a Jewish webinar about anti-Semitism last week.
Whoever’s behind these zoomgassings must be the avatar of Pure Evil, hurting all of these Jews’ feelings for fun.
Experts advised people to secure meetings against intruders.
A BBC employee who attended the meeting at a synagogue in London explained what happened: “There were about 205 of us logged on – including lots of families with little kids – and suddenly the numbers went up to 243.”
The group chat, which appears on the right-hand side of the screen, rapidly filled up with “vile abuse”, she said.
There appeared to be only one uninvited guest on the screen, suggesting the rest of the accounts may have been generated automatically by one person.
“The rabbi didn’t realise what was going on until one of the congregants texted him. By then lots of people had taken their children offline,” the BBC was told.
“It was terrifying at what is a really terrifying time anyway,” the BBC employee added.
Mean words from a stranger over the Internet are indeed terrifying, because you can’t just not read the screen, or ban or silence them — or in this case, just kick them out of the conference.
No, there’s no way to do that.
You have no choice but to read their words.
Details of the meeting had been published on the synagogue’s website.
“Communities advertising meetings like this are exposing themselves to all kinds of risks,” said the BBC employee.
The synagogue’s rabbi described the incident as being an “intrusive violation”, and said it had been reported to the Community Security Trust and police.
“One of the founding ideals of our community is that we should welcome those who wish to join us for prayer, ” he said in a statement.
“We recognise that many Jewish households are not members of synagogues, or are members of communities that are not able to offer online services. We want to assure them that they are still welcome to pray and study with us.
“It is deeply upsetting that at such a difficult period we are faced with additional challenges like these. We will be keeping the security of our online provision under review through the weeks ahead.”
The police told the BBC that its investigation was under way.
The coronavirus pandemic shouldn’t make people forget that there’s a deadlier virus out there, a virus that turns its victims into ashes: anti-Semitism.
We must use police resources to investigate the online trolling of the Jewish people, lest anti-Semitism turns into a global pandemic and the world is covered in ashes.