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Ryder: FBI joins probe into hack of North Shore Hebrew Academy website

Hackers posted anti-semitic videos and other related propaganda

Hackers posted anti-semitic videos and other related propaganda on a website of the North Shore Hebrew Academy in Great Neck. Credit: Google Earth

The FBI has joined an investigation into Monday's cyberattack on a Great Neck yeshiva in which anti-semitic videos and songs were posted on a school website, Nassau Police Commissioner Patrick Ryder said.

After the hack of a North Shore Hebrew Academy website, video and images had been posted of swastikas, Nazi soldiers marching during World War II and other related propaganda, as well as a song threatening the lives of Jewish people.

"Last night the Nassau County Police Department commenced an investigation into disturbing and malicious communications that involve online attacks against our Jewish community," Ryder said Tuesday. "These attacks will never be tolerated and I have assigned extra resources due to these anti-Semitic remarks and threats. We continue the investigation collaboratively with the FBI at this time."

Nassau and Lake Success police began the investigation Monday.

Officials with the FBI's Melville office referred all questions about the case to the law enforcement agency's New York City office. Calls to the NYC office for comment were not immediately returned. The North Shore Hebrew Academy also could not immediately be reached for comment.

The cyberattack prompted State Sen. Todd Kaminsky (D-Long Beach) to ask the New York State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services to allow institutions to use funds obtained through the Securing Communities Against Crimes Grants Program to beef up cybersecurity. The grant program, designed to provide money to boost safety at nonprofit museums, day care centers, community centers and camps at risk of hate crimes because of religion, ideology or mission, has been used in the past for security camera systems, gates and doors.

"It is beyond disturbing," Kaminsky said of the hack. "All institutions must be prepared for this kind of attack."

In a statement, State Sen. Anna Kaplan, a Democrat whose district includes Great Neck, condemned the cyberattack as a "repugnant crime against our community during Chanukah … and we must ALL speak out in no uncertain terms that we reject it at every opportunity and in every corner of our community."

Long Island’s county executives agreed that hatred is not welcome in Nassau and Suffolk counties.

"There is a zero-tolerance policy for anti-Semitism or any kind of bigotry in Nassau County," said Nassau County Executive Laura Curran in a statement Tuesday. "We will never accept anyone being abused or intimidated in this county because of who they are."

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone said he was "disturbed and angered" by the incident.

"It is unfathomable that in this day of age, children on Long Island have to endure these ugly attacks, let alone students who choose to attend a religious institution that only serves to further their education and teach tolerance," Bellone said in a statement. "It is a reminder that hate and bigotry can come in all forms, including cyberattacks, and therefore it is incumbent upon us to remain vigilant and come together as one community to stomp out hate wherever it exists."

The attack was widely reported on social media Monday. An anti-bigotry organization, stopantisemitism.org, among the first to report the hack, said the person or persons responsible also leaked teachers’ and students’ addresses and other personal information.

Scott Richman, the regional director of the Anti-Defamation League of New York/New Jersey, said the North Shore Hebrew Academy community was deeply disturbed by the cyberattack.

"This was clearly meant to terrorize students, teachers, parents and administrators," Richman said.

Ryder asked anyone with information to call Crime Stoppers at 800-244-TIPS. All calls will remain confidential.

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