Synagogue of judge who approved Trump’s search warrant cancels Shabbat service

The vitriol against Reinhart is part of an escalation of antisemitic animus propelled by Trump's fervent supporters.

An aerial view of President Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate, Wednesday, Aug. 10, 2022, in Palm Beach, Florida. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

(RNS) — Threats against the Florida judge who signed the warrant allowing the FBI to search former President Donald Trump’s home earlier this week have led the synagogue where he is a member to cancel Friday’s beachfront service.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Bruce Reinhart has been the subject of a massive right-wing social media attack after he signed off on a search warrant for Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate Friday (Aug. 5). The judge’s address and other personal information were shared online, and threats on his life were made.

Reinhart is Jewish and a member of Temple Beth David in Palm Beach Gardens, a Conservative synagogue where he also serves on the board of trustees. The synagogue frequently holds Friday night Shabbat services on the beach, described on the website as “the most spiritual Shabbat experience we’ve ever had.”

Friday’s 6:30 p.m. service, led by Cantor Danielle Bensimhon, the synagogue’s leader, was scrapped in the wake of those threats.

Calls to the synagogue Reinhart attends were not returned.

Threats grew so intense, the judge’s official bio was removed from the U.S. District Court Southern District of Florida’s website.

The vitriol against Reinhart is part of an escalation of antisemitic animus propelled by Trump’s fervent supporters. It comes on the fifth anniversary of the deadly Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville in which mostly white men staged a torch-lit march on the University of Virginia campus shouting “Jews will not replace us.”  

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One online user on the notorious imageboard 4chan wrote of Reinhart: “That is a k***. And a pedophile … He should be tried for treason and executed.” 

The FBI search of the former president’s home ignited talk on the far right of violence and civil war as Trump’s most loyal backers have attacked the department, Attorney General Merrick Garland and also Reinhart.

On Trump’s Truth Social platform, comments included: “Can we just do this Civil War thing already,” “It’s time to start hunting them in return,” and “Patriots!!! Arm yourselves! We are about to enter into Civil War!”

Much of the attack on Reinhart has focused on his past legal defense of some of convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein’s employees, with the implication that he defended Epstein, who took his own life in 2019.

Reinhart was appointed a magistrate judge in 2018, responsible for deciding if law enforcement presented probable cause for a crime and whether a search warrant is justified.

One of the most prominent critics has been retired New York Mets baseball legend Lenny Dykstra, a Trump supporter with 87,000 followers on Twitter. Dykstra took the opportunity to attack Reinhart and his synagogue as insufficiently Jewish.

“I hope you all weren’t expecting that the synagogue where go-ahead-and-raid-Trump Judge #BruceReinhart is on the board of trustees is one where the congregation keeps kosher, observes the sabbath, etc. You can bet they’re into “social justice” of course!” Dykstra tweeted.

Address redacted by RNS. Screen grab

Address redacted by RNS. Screen grab

Dykstra, who retired from the game in 1996, attended Torah study with Rabbi Shmuel Metzger, a Chabad rabbi, the New York Post reported in 2018. It’s not clear if he formally converted to Judaism.

“I’m on a spiritual journey,” Dykstra told The Post. “I’m trying to find if God exists. I want to deal with people who are smarter than me.”

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