Temple Beth Sholom of Flushing at 171-39 Northern Blvd. and the Hollis Hills Jewish Center at 210-10 Union Tpke. each received sinister phone recordings on their personal extensions on Dec. 25. The incidents were reported to local police two days later.
In the menacing message to Rabbi Sharon Ballan of Temple Beth Sholom, a sinister voice addresses the rabbi and wishes her a Merry Christmas before making reference to President Trump, “who was elected with the majority of the electoral college in a landslide and now we can grab ‘em by the p***y.”
“[Trump] said, ‘We’re going to say Merry Christmas again,'” the voice continues, “so Merry Christmas to each and every one of you people, who aren’t going to be dismantling Christmas in our country anymore!” The caller then ends the message with prolonged laughter.
Ballan told QNS she reported the phone call to the 109th Precinct on Dec. 27, shortly after listening to it for the first time. Two officers arrived about an hour later, taking a copy of the call and telling Ballan they will “keep their ears and eyes open.”
”This was just very disconcerting,” Ballan said. “And the nature of it — it really sounded like it wasn’t just a random person acting out. It was just too polished and canned sounding … It was definitely made to sound threatening.”
The religious leader said she’s seen an increased police presence in the immediate area following the phone call.
Ballan also reached out to the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), who promptly responded and informed her another synagogue in Brooklyn received a similar phone message.
QNS was provided with a copy of the voicemail left with Temple Beth Sholom, which follows below (WARNING: Contains graphic language; parental discretion advised):
Hollis Hills Bayside Jewish Center’s Rabbi David Wise also received a similar but slightly varied phone message that same day. He said that he reported the incident to the 111th Precinct on Dec. 27 and will be following up with the officers next week.
The synagogue has never received a call like this before, Wise added.
An NYPD spokesperson said the complaints regarding both incidents were not immediately available.
A spokesperson for the ADL New York Regional Office confirmed that the group received reports of the incidents and are aware of them. While the messages are not outwardly anti-Semitic, the spokesperson said, they are “still concerning” given the recent spate of hate crimes in New York City.
“We continue to monitor and report these incidents closely,” the spokesperson said.
According to a report released by the ADL on Nov. 2, anti-Semitic incidents across New York State nearly doubled in the first nine months of 2017. In New York City, anti-Semitic incidents saw a 92 percent increase year-over-year.