Bomb threat made to temple a hoax, but ‘unsettling to whole Jewish community’

Drone photos by Joshua Ross Photography

November 19, 2023 by Carol Britton Meyer (Drone photos by Joshua Ross Photography)

The Hingham Police Department is investigating a bomb threat made this afternoon to Congregation Sha’aray Shalom at 1112 Main St.

While it turned out to be a hoax, Cantor Steven Weiss called the incident “incredibly unsettling to the whole Jewish community.”

He told the Hingham Anchor he is “very appreciative of the support of the Hingham police and fire departments and the Select Board, who have been incredible partners in ensuring our community is safe. This is one in a string of very distressing anti-Semitic events that have ratcheted up since Oct. 7 [when Hamas attacked Israel], both locally and across the country,” including an incident in Needham. “It was an empty but scary threat, and we’re grateful for the Hingham police and fire departments’ quick response.”

Drone photos by Joshua Ross Photography

The threat came in the form of an email,  Rabbi Eric Berk told the Hingham Anchor. “The congregation takes security and safety very seriously, and the Hingham Police Department was notified immediately,” he said. “It was treated as a credible threat in every way, and it was determined that there was no immediate threat.”

The congregation was informed about the threat shortly thereafter. The incident is under investigation by local, state, and federal law enforcement officials, including the HPD.

“The Hingham Police have been incredibly supportive and have made their presence known in a very tangible way, which is reassuring to our congregation and congregants,” Berk said. “These kinds of threats have  happened throughout the nation, and it’s a cruel facet of the sad reality in which we live.”

Berk noted that the temple has private security for all its gatherings, including for this entire weekend during every event. “There was nothing suspicious the whole time until we got the email,” he said.

Berk also said he was sorry that the incident  inconvenienced Weston Nurseries — which is located across the street from the temple — and that it also affected other neighbors as well because of the closing of part of Main Street.

The HPD notified the public of the bomb threat via a Facebook post at about 2:15 p.m.

In response to the threat, nearby homes and businesses were evacuated, and Rte. 228 was closed to through traffic at Gardner and Whiting Streets.

The Hingham Police shared the following update on Sunday evening:

“A bomb threat was emailed to Congregation Sha’aray Shalom in Hingham today. The threat prompted the evacuation of several homes and the closure of Main St. No explosive devices were found.

On Sunday, November 19, 2023 at 1:28pm an employee inside Congregation Sha’aray Shalom at 1112 Main St. (Route 228) received an email that warned bombs were in the synagogue. The employee left the synagogue and called 9-1-1. Several homes nearby were evacuated. Main St. (Route 228) was closed in both directions.

Hingham Fire Department assisted at the scene. Explosive detection dogs from Quincy Police and Massachusetts State Police searched the building. No explosive devices were found. Main St. was reopened to traffic at 3:15pm. The incident remains under investigation.

More details will be shared as they become available.

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