Synagogue President Found Murdered by Stabbing

( – With tensions rising between supporters and opponents of Israel’s war against Hamas, the ancient specter of anti-Semitism is part of our politics again. Now the president of a Detroit synagogue has been stabbed to death. Cops say they don’t know the motive yet and that there is no evidence of a hate crime.

On October 21, Samantha Woll, the president of the Isaac Agree Downtown Synagogue in Detroit, was found dead outside her home; she had been stabbed to death. Police are investigating, but Chief James White called for patience and said there are “many unanswered questions.” The question Detroit’s Jews will be focused on is a simple one, though — are their lives at risk, too?

Since the October 7 attack by Hamas, which left more than 1,400 Israelis dead and hundreds abducted and held as hostages, anti-Semitic incidents in the US have surged by 400%. American Jews have suffered online abuse, vandalism, and physical violence. Until cops solve Woll’s murder, there will be fears that they’re also at risk of being killed simply because of their religion.

Detroit has a rapidly growing Muslim population; nearby Hamtramck is the only Muslim-majority city in the US. Around 1.9% of Detroit residents are Jewish. With the Middle East’s conflicts increasingly spilling over into our streets, as recent immigrants bring their cultural issues with them, there’s a real fear of violence.

While Detroit’s Jewish leaders are calling for calm until the police find out why Woll was murdered, and insist there are “no known threats at this time,” others are sounding a more worried note. House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) warned that “too many Americans, including our Jewish sisters and brothers” are now living in fear because of their beliefs. Israel’s Diaspora Affairs Minister has also blamed Woll’s death on tensions linked to the Gaza war. With that war showing no signs of ending any time soon, many Jews will be worried about violence from their neighbors.

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