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Police investigate ‘hoax’ threats against houses of worship on Sunday

Apparent hoax threats to places of worship in Hingham and Needham Sunday drew police responses.

Hingham police said it had investigated a bomb threat made Sunday afternoon to Congregation Sha’aray Shalom on Main Street.

Nearby houses and businesses were evacuated and roads were closed, but ultimately authorities did not find any explosives, police said in social media posts.

Cantor Steven Weiss said the Congregation Sha’aray Shalom received an email shortly after 1 p.m. threatening the presence of explosives in the building. He said staff immediately suspected it was a hoax, as other synagogues have faced such threats in recent months, but he called police, who Weiss said responded quickly.


“It’s very clear it’s just another antisemitic act of hate meant to scare the Jewish community,” Weiss said in a phone interview Sunday evening.

Weiss noted there has been an increase in “swatting” incidents — where someone makes a hoax threat that brings a police response as a prank or intimidation tactic — in recent months.

And, he added, antisemitism has been rising in the month and a half since the conflict between Israel and Hamas flared up in early October.

”Their goal is to scare the community,” he said. “We’re not going to let that happen.”

Other synagogues, including ones in in Attleboro and in Rhode Island, have received threats in recent months.

In Needham, the police department wrote on social media that its dispatch center received a call Sunday involving a threat against a place of worship, though police did not say what institution received the call.

The department said the threat drew a response from the Massachusetts State Police bomb squad, who cleared the building, but it was believed to be a hoax. Police did not respond to requests for comment.

“Checks of all of our places of worship will be increased for the foreseeable future,” the police department said in the post.


Sean Cotter can be reached at him @cotterreporter.