Associated Press

A year later, Texas synagogue hostages cope, carry on

By Bobby Ross Jr. | The Associated Press

COLLEYVILLE, Texas — A year ago, Jeff Cohen and three others survived a hostage standoff at their Reform Jewish synagogue in this Fort Worth suburb.

Their trauma did not disappear, though, with the FBI’s killing of the pistol-wielding captor, 44-year-old British national Malik Faisal Akram.

Healing from the Jan. 15, 2022, ordeal remains an ongoing process.

“Let’s be blunt: We’re healing. We’re not healed,” said Cohen, 58, a Lockheed Martin engineer who serves as president of Congregation Beth Israel and its 140-family membership.

The 10-hour standoff ended about 9 p.m. that Saturday as the remaining hostages — including Cohen — escaped and the FBI’s tactical team gunned down Akram.

The violence left the synagogue with broken doors and windows, shattered glass and bullet holes. Within three months, repairs had been made and the congregation returned. But one year later, deep wounds still fester.

“We have a lot of people who are still feeling it bad,” Cohen said as two fellow hostages, Lawrence Schwartz and Shane Woodward, nodded affirmatively in a group interview at the synagogue. “We have parents who aren’t very comfortable bringing their kids to Sunday school.

“We’re forever changed,” he added. “We’ve had to get used to having security here all the time.”

The recent upsurge in antisemitic rhetoric and actions nationally has intensified both the congregation’s traumatic feelings and its resolve to move forward without fear, said Anna Salton Eisen, a founder of the synagogue and author of books about her parents surviving the Holocaust.

“After the hostage crisis, I’m inspired to go out and try to use this, along with the Holocaust, as an inspiration to fight hate,” Eisen said.

Read the full story.

This story appears on The Associated Press wire.

Featured photo by AP photographer Tony Gutierrez

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