‘It Was Really Terrifying’ Congregation Beth Israel Members React To Hostage Situation

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COLLEYVILLE, Texas (CBSDFW.COM) – Members of Congregation Beth Israel are reacting to the hostage situation that took place on Saturday.

“It was really terrifying,” said Anna Salton Eisen, one of the founding members of Congregation Beth Israel. “We just had to pray and hope and wait and see that it would be resolved peacefully and everyone would get out okay.”

Anna Salton Eisen, one of the founding members of Congregation Beth Israel. (credit: Nick Starling/CBSDFW.com)

After a nearly 11-hour standoff, the four hostages were released, including Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker.

As the events were unfolding, Eisen had to tell her nearly 100-year-old mother who is a member of the congregation and a Holocaust survivor what was happening. “When I had to go in and tell her that this was happening, she knows the rabbi and many of the congregates, it was really difficult for me and she was tearful and upset and I know that she has her own memories of these kind of things.”

Eisen said things will be different when the congregation gathers for the first time since this incident. “I think the emotions are really going to come when we see the rabbi for the first time and we get to hug him and lay eyes on him and I think it’s really going to hit us in our hearts how much we care and love him and his family.”

Outside the congregation, other members of the Jewish community told CBS 11 they’ve seen an uptick in anti-Semitic rhetoric the last several years leading up to incidents like this one.

“A situation like this can make you want to run away and hide in fear and this is the moment where we need to stand strong and be proud of who we are we also need to come together when there’s hate in the world it affects everyone and it only impacts us negatively,” said Jewish Activist Lizzy Sazetsky.

“There is anti-Semitism, there is intolerance, there is hatred but there is also support and law that is there to fight this. This is not a government instituted act of anti-Semitism; these are individuals or groups and they are violating the law in our country,” added Eisen.

As emotions feel raw right now, they know the community is praying for them to stay safe.

“We have to realize that we are part of a big, caring community and that it’s just going to take time and we have to be able to talk about how we’re feeling and just be grateful and continue to be aware and prepared for situations like this which unfortunately now can happen,” said Eisen.

In the days to follow, Eisen believes the community will help them get through this. “Get together and show our unity for each other and find a way to heal.”

Eisen said it’s too early to tell if they will need to beef up security at the synagogue.

Colleyville Police and members of the FBI are still on scene outside the synagogue as they continue to investigate.

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