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Atlanta synagogue says it was the target of a cyber attack before MLK Shabbat service with Raphael Warnock


The president of an Atlanta synagogue says its website was the target of a cyberattack during its annual Martin Luther King Jr. Shabbat service with US Sen.-elect Raphael Warnock’s Ebenezer Baptist Church.

People who tried to watch Friday’s virtual service via the synagogue’s website were unable to, Kent Alexander, president of The Temple, wrote in a letter sent Saturday to the congregation.

The Temple’s website service provider told the synagogue’s executive director that “‘malicious user agents’ had continuously loaded the Temple website with the objective of shutting it down,” Alexander’s letter said.

The executive director was told it was the “largest-ever attack affecting the provider’s network,” Alexander wrote, blocking not just The Temple, but the provider’s other synagogue clients across the country.

“Eventually, access was restored for all, but The Temple was last,” Alexander said. “Our site was down for over an hour into the service.”

“Presumably, The Temple was singled out by a racist and anti-Semitic group or individual bent on silencing our joint Temple-Ebenezer Baptist Church MLK Jr. Shabbat,” Alexander wrote, noting the service featured a sermon by Warnock, who will become Georgia’s first Black senator after winning a close runoff election earlier this month.

For members who missed the service, it is still available to watch on YouTube, Facebook and the synagogue’s website, the letter said.

“Authorities are conducting an investigation,” the letter said. CNN has reached out to The Temple and local authorities for additional information.

The MLK Jr. Shabbat service is an annual event honoring King’s legacy held by The Temple, the oldest Jewish congregation in the city, along with the historic Ebenezer Baptist Church, where King was a pastor from 1960 until his assassination in 1968.

The Temple has its own historical ties to the civil rights movement. Its rabbi in the late 1950s was Jacob Rothschild, an outspoken advocate for racial equality. In October 1958, The Temple was bombed by suspected white supremacists in response to Rothschild’s activism, though no one was ever convicted of the crime.

Rothschild later befriended King, per The Temple and city of Atlanta’s websites, and delivered a eulogy for King at a memorial service organized by Atlanta clergy members.

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