You never know what you’ll uncover in a congregational newsletter. That’s what we found out while searching for upcoming events in a July 15 mailing from Mt. Sinai in Cheyenne.
“We start today with something very serious,” writes board president Dave Lerner at the top of his weekly column. “Mt. Sinai Synagogue is facing a possible security threat.”
According the column, the FBI notified Wyoming’s Dept. of Homeland Security Thursday, July 11, that James Anthony Bauman was due to be released from the VA Hospital on July 12.
During his hospital stay, Bauman “had talked about joining far-right groups and shooting up a synagogue, but not specifically Mt. Sinai,” the president’s message continues.
The FBI also said that Bauman owned a gun (exact make unknown).
Lerner added that Homeland Security contacted the synagogue before the Cheyenne police.
Following a flurry of emails and phone calls, Mt. Sinai and police arranged for two armed police cars to sit outside the building last Friday night and Saturday.
The Mt. Sinai board was scheduled to discuss additional strategies on Wednesday evening, July 16.
When the Intermountain Jewish News contacted the FBI’s Cheyenne office, it was referred to the Denver field office, which issued the original alert to Cheyenne officials.
Although the IJN planned to ask whether Bauman is under surveillance and poses a risk to Denver’s Jewish institutions, an email late Tuesday from Special Agent Amy Meyer of Denver’s FBI field office halted further inquiries.
“We have no confirmed threats toward Mt. Sinai at the time and unfortunately cannot provide additional comments as to your inquiry.”
No uniform police will guard Mt. Sinai congregants this Shabbat, not out of indifference but because they are all needed for Cheyenne Frontier Days, July 19-28.
“Hiring off duty police officers is not an option,” Dave Lerner told the IJN Tuesday. “But I have to say that having two marked cars sitting here last weekend was great.”
Cheyenne police have provided a list of security companies to serve in their stead.
Despite Mt. Sinai’s century-old presence in the city, it remains a hidden jewel of Jewish Wyoming.
“Mt. Sinai has been around for 100 years but a lot of people don’t even know we exist,” Lerner says. “It’s possible that Bauman hasn’t paid much attention either.”
While speculating that “there’s a big difference between shooting off your mouth and really doing something,” Lerner and the synagogue regard the threat as a serious one.
After the shooting in Poway, Calif., Mt. Sinai entered into productive talks regarding protective measures with the FBI and the national and state branches of the Dept. of Homeland Security.
Lerner says the spike in violent anti-Semitic incidents is impossible to ignore. “Nationally, it’s a shame. It has cost lives — lots of lives. But Wyoming has always been very tolerant and supportive of the Jewish community.
“We see that in the large number of non-Jews who come to our Yiddish Food Fair, frequent our concert for our endowment fund and meet with touring Israeli scouts.”
Jewish communities also flourish in Laramie, Jackson and Casper.
Lerner said law enforcement agencies are keeping an eagle eye on Wyoming and regional Jews.
“They are very aware and they are paying attention.”
A follow-up email the IJN received from Agent Meyer of the FBI’s field office late Tuesday confirms this:
“Please know we are keeping close watch on any potential threats to the Jewish community and if we have any specific and credible threat information we will certainly share that with you.”
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