In a tumultuous turn of events on Thursday night, Albany law enforcement apprehended Mufid Fawaz Alkhader, 28, following an incident where he discharged a firearm and vociferously declared “Free Palestine” outside the Temple Israel Conservative Synagogue located at 600 New Scotland Ave.
The authorities, comprising local police and FBI investigators, remain uncertain about the intended target of Alkhader’s gunfire, contemplating whether it was directed at the synagogue or discharged into the air.
Albany, NY – Temple Israel Synagogue shooter has been identified as 28 year old Mufid Fawaz Alkhader.
Alkhader, yelled “Free Palestine” as he shot off a round on the premises of Temple Israel and appeared to have torn down an Israeli flag or sign, according to law enforcement.… pic.twitter.com/3o5HthLXII
— StopAntisemitism (@StopAntisemites) December 8, 2023
Governor Kathy Hochul issued a stern condemnation, asserting, “Any act of antisemitism is unacceptable, and undermining public safety at a synagogue on the first night of Hanukkah is even more deplorable.” She emphatically added, “Make no mistake: The safety of Jewish New Yorkers is nonnegotiable.”
Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan took to Twitter to express her thoughts on the distressing incident, characterizing it as a manifestation of the “malignant anti-Semitism” pervading the nation. She urged collective responsibility, transcending individual beliefs, to confront and denounce antisemitism. Quoting Leonard Cohen, she remarked, “There is a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in,” concluding with a festive wish for a joyous Hanukkah in Albany.
“There is a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in.” -Leonard Cohen
Happy Hanukkah Albany! ?️ May your candles burn bright this season. pic.twitter.com/2VB8ic7szG
— Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan (@MayorSheehan) December 8, 2023
Wendy Love Anderson, clergy at Temple Israel, conveyed a message of resilience, stating, “We’re going to be lighting Hanukkah candles because we need light in darkness.”
Temple Israel, as described on its website, defines itself as a multifaceted institution – a Beit Knesset (House of Assembly), a Beit Tefillah (House of Prayer), and a Beit Midrash (House of Study). The synagogue aims to nurture the spiritual and intellectual lives of its members and the community, offering various educational, religious, social, and recreational activities aligned with the principles of Judaism, the Jewish people, and the State of Israel.
Highlighting its historical roots, the website notes the merger of two Albany synagogues, B’nai Israel and Tifereth Israel, in 1949 to form Temple Israel. Over the years, the synagogue has served as an egalitarian, USCJ-affiliated Conservative haven for numerous community members and families.
Mufid Fawaz Alkhader faces charges related to the unauthorized possession of a firearm and is scheduled to appear in federal court on Friday.