Anti-Semitic hackers invaded the websites of 50 Reform synagogues before Shabbat on Nov. 23 with an hour-long video that argued that the Holocaust did not occur.
One of the congregations struck was Temple Sinai of Bergen County in Tenafly.
A congregant whose in-laws are Holocaust survivors told NJ Jewish News he saw most of the video when he logged onto his temple's website to find out what time services would begin.
“It was very shocking, disturbing, and offensive. My in-laws were particularly outraged by it,” said the man, who requested anonymity.
“Not only was it someone making an argument that the Holocaust did not occur — the video actually had canned laughter and this mocking sarcastic tone. I can't express how insensitive it was.”
The hackers appear to be a group calling itself “Moroccan Ghosts,” according to Jeffrey Salkin, New Jersey community director of the Anti-Defamation League.
According to the group's Facebook page, the Moroccan Ghosts targeted synagogues belonging to the Union for Reform Judaism because they consider the organization, said Salkin, quoting the website, “one of the most significant and very extreme Zionist assemblies that supports Israel in America.”
It’s clear from the Facebook posting, Salkin told NJ Jewish News in a Nov. 27 phone interview, that the group “denies the Holocaust, calling it a scam by the Jews to blackmail the Germans to gain sympathy to take over Palestinian lands.”
Since March, Moroccan Ghosts has hacked some 82 websites, mostly in the United States, but also in France, Britain, Vietnam, South Africa, Germany, Spain, and China, Salkin said. The Facebook page of Moroccan Ghosts includes graphics reading “Free Palestine,” as well as an Israeli flag ripped in half and set on fire.
The ADL alerted Facebook to the Holocaust denial posting by the Moroccan Ghosts. Following the hacking, the URJ pulled down the websites for scanning and clean-up.
“Although the URJ site itself was not affected, a few dozen of the websites we host on behalf of our congregations were indeed hacked over the weekend,” Annette Powers, URJ’s public relations and communications manager, wrote NJJN in a Nov. 27 e-mail. “As a defensive measure, we pulled the sites down.”
At Temple Sinai, the congregant brought the violation to the attention of Rabbi Jordan Millstein as he was about to begin Shabbat services.
“I ran into my office to look at it,” said the rabbi. “I saw about one minute of it. It was one of the creepiest, most disturbing videos I have ever seen. It talked about how the Holocaust had never happened, that it was mathematically impossible for that number of people to have been killed.”
To Millstein, the video was “like a hate crime, like somebody spray-painting swastikas on the walls.”
Within an hour, the synagogue’s computer specialist had shut the website down.