Myrtle Beach Rabbi responds to local, nationwide threats against Jewish community

The Rabbi and the president of Temple Emanu-El in Myrtle Beach said they were shocked to find out what the FBI says a Conway man was planning.

Benjamin McDowell, 29, was taken into custody by the FBI after writing multiple threatening messages on Facebook and discussing an attack "in the spirit of Dylann Roof," according to court paperwork.

One post McDowell wrote in December, according to court documents, was about Temple Emanu-El in the Myrtle Beach area. The post said, "I love love to act what u think," and then linked to the website for the synagogue.

The court documents go on to outline what the FBI says was white supremacist hate speech posted by McDowell on Facebook.

RELATED: Conway man accused of planning hate-based attack to appear in Court Tuesday

Rabbi Avi Perets said it was shocking to hear these type of hate messages. The FBI has asked Perets not to discuss specifics of the case.

"Judaism is all about love, not hate. So, there is no room for that," he said.

RELATED: Man accused of planning Dylann Roof-style attack whispers 'I love you' to family in court

The president of Temple Emanu-El, Donald Sloan, said it's disheartening to hear things like this.

"I've always known that there is a certain amount of antisemitism out there, wherever that is, but I was really dismayed that someone had singled us out," he said.

In a statement Monday, the Jewish Community Center Association of North America said the following:

On February 20, 11 Jewish community centers received phoned-in bomb threats. This comes in the aftermath of three waves of bomb threats in January (Jan. 9, Jan. 18, and Jan. 31), resulting in, through today, 68 incidents at 53 JCCs in 26 states and one Canadian province in total. All bomb threats this year proved to be hoaxes, and all JCCs impacted have returned to regular operations.

RELATED: 100 Headstones damaged at historic Jewish cemetery; FBI investigating JCC threats

Perets said it's alarming to see these type of hateful threats being made against the Jewish community.

He also said they will be taking extra precautions, like hiring security to be at their services.

"We can't take any risks, any chances, and particularly after what we read and the intentions of this guy, we have to take measures," Perets said.

In times like these, people need to step up in their own way to be heroes, Sloan said.

"We have to be good about educating people about who we are, about American values of freedom to worship," he said.

Regardless, Perets said fear will not stop people from praying or worshiping at the synagogue.

"In our history, we went through many tribulations, which the worst one of course is the Holocaust that we experienced about 70 years ago, and we always survive," he said.

Both Sloan and Perets said they want to thank local law enforcement, the community and the public officials who have stepped up and condemned this type of hate.

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