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Jews in Gadsden Reassured; Youth Who Bombed Synagogue is Arrested

March 28, 1960
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

The Temple Beth Israel here, at which a fire bomb was thrown last Friday night by a 16-year-old youth, was today conducting its activities on a normal basis, with its Sunday school enjoying full attendance. The attack was condemned today in sermons preached in a number of churches by Christian ministers.

“There are 60 Jewish families in Gadsden,” Rabbi Saul Rubin, spiritual leader of the Reform Temple, told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency. “There is absolutely no panic whatever among our people, or, for that matter, in the entire community. There is only watchfulness against any possible recurrence of such a shameful manifestation.

“We have had marvelous relationships with the entire community, ” the rabbi declared, “and the general community, as the Jewish community here, has been deeply shocked by this occurrence. Public officials, press and the Christian Churches here have assured us of their sympathy and of their determination that nothing like this shall ever happen here again. “

The 16-year-old youth, who admitted throwing the fire bomb at the synagogue and shooting at congregants, was under arrest today on two counts of assault and intent to murder. He told the police that he “passionately hated Jews. “

Two members of the congregation were injured, one critically, in the hit-and-run attack at the synagogue where 180 congregants were present. Alvin Lowi was shot in the hand, and Alan Cohen was hit in the leg and chest. Cohen was operated on and listed as in “fair condition.”

Police and FBI agents moved quickly after the attack, in which it was at first reported that three youths were involved. However, Hubert Jackson, Jr. , alias Jerry Hunt, the confessed attacker, said he had been alone.

Circuit Solicitor Charles Wright said that Jackson, a high school junior, would be charged with murder if Cohen died. The youth was an immediate suspect because he had been telling friends he planned just such an attack because Jewish youth at the high school had been complaining about his wearing a Nazi armband and a red-painted Nazi helmet.

The youth-fled from the scene after he threw one of two fire bombs at the synagogue. He told police that, when congregants came running out, he started shooting in their general direction. Walter Hunt, his step father, helped police and FBI agents find the youth.


The youth told police he had been interested in the Nazi movement since he was in the seventh grade. He said he had had an argument with a Jewish boy. He also admitted painting a swastika on a Gadsden store several months ago.

The Circuit solicitor said that the youth told of approaching the synagogue with two bombs. He lit one and threw it. When it failed to go through the window, he dropped the other one and started to flee to a cab he had parked nearby. It was at this point that congregants began to pour out and the youth kept shooting until his rifle Jammed.

The cab was found abandoned later. In it were a Nazi helmet, a semi-automatic 21-caliber rifle, a hunting knife, a can of gasoline and a bundle of rags. The Circuit Solicitor said Hunt “seems right proud of what he did. ” He also said there were no immediate plans to give the youth a psychiatric examination and that he would be held in the county jail for the time being.

Earlier, Gov. John Patterson of Alabama had issued a statement declaring he was “shocked” by the “outrageous” act that he wanted it “clearly understood that this state will not tolerate lawless acts and mob violence in any form.”

The guest speaker at Temple Beth Israel here Friday night was Rabbi Alfred Goodman, spiritual leader of Temple Israel at Columbus, Ga. , which was painted with swastikas last year. A teenager was later found guilty of the vandalism.

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