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A 23-year old Cleveland resident pleaded no contest June 27 to charges of telephone harassment after leaving anti-Semetic and harassing messages to the Heights Jewish Center Synagogue in University Heights and Temple Israel Ner Tamid in Mayfield Heights.

Abdulrahman Abulkhalil allegedly made the calls the evening of Jan. 19. Both calls were reported to police on Jan. 21, after Shabbat ended. He was arrested April 17.

The call to Temple Israel Ner Tamid came from a blocked number and included an “unknown, angry male” saying “kill the f****** Jews,” “rape your wives and daughters,” and “blow up your country,” according to a police report.

The first harassing message Heights Jewish Center received Jan. 19 said, “All Jews must die,” which was repeated multiple times and ended with “Burn the Jews,” according to the police report. Another harassing message was left Jan. 20. 

Heights Jewish Center president Rob Altshuler also received three calls on his personal cell phone that were anti-Semitic and threatening, according to the police report.

Abulkhalil also called Beachwood Kehilla in Beachwood, Park Synagogue in Cleveland Heights and Pepper Pike and Jewish Learning Connection in University Heights around the same time, although messages were not left at those locations, according to an email from Jim Hartnett, director of community wide security at the Jewish Federation of Cleveland.

The Federation reportedly worked in conjunction with University Heights police to locate and apprehend Abulkahlil.

University Heights Police Lt. Dale Orians said the police department was there for all citizens of the city.

“We’re looking to make sure these sort of crimes don’t happen again and make University Heights a safe place,” Orians said. “We’re glad that we got to the bottom of it. We’re glad that we were able to determine who it was that did this. We’re glad we were able to get them into the court system and that sentencing will be appropriate for the crime he did.”

Altshuler declined to comment on the plea.

Richard Freedman, president of the board of trustees at Temple Israel Ner Tamid, declined to comment on the plea.


Columbus Bureau Chief Amanda Koehn contributed to this story.

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