No indication of hate crime in murder of Detroit synagogue president, police say

The latest Jewish News

Read this week’s digital edition

Click Here

No indication of hate crime in murder of Detroit synagogue president, police say

Local Jewish leader Samantha Woll was found stabbed to death outside her home early on Saturday.

Samantha Woll, president of the Isaac Agree Downtown Synagogue in Detroit, welcomes attendees to the congregation's centennial celebration and groundbreaking on a major renovation project, Aug. 14, 2022. (Andrew Lapin)
Samantha Woll, president of the Isaac Agree Downtown Synagogue in Detroit, welcomes attendees to the congregation's centennial celebration and groundbreaking on a major renovation project, Aug. 14, 2022. (Andrew Lapin)

Police in Detroit, USA said on Sunday that they had found no indication of a hate crime in their investigation of the murder of Samantha Woll, a prominent and beloved local Jewish leader found stabbed to death outside her home early Saturday.

The police did not offer any additional details about their investigation, which has so far not resulted in an arrest. The police issued the statement just hours after Woll’s family and friends mourned her at a funeral held at her childhood synagogue in the city’s suburbs.

“No evidence has surfaced suggesting that this crime was motivated by antisemitism,” Detroit Police Chief James White said in the statement.

Woll’s murder comes at a time of high alert for U.S. Jews, following Hamas’ deadly Oct. 7 attack on Israel and widespread protests against Israel’s ensuing war in Gaza. A public call by a former Hamas leader for global protests against Jews caused some Jewish institutions to close or fortify themselves, including in the Detroit area, which is home to one of the largest Palestinian communities in the United States.

Some public figures immediately linked Woll’s murder to the conflict. But local Jewish groups urged caution about jumping to conclusions regarding a possible motive for the murder.

The Detroit Jewish federation said on Sunday that it was in touch with multiple law enforcement agencies and municipal offices, and assured local Jews that there were “no specific or credible threats to our community at this time.”

At the funeral, friends and family emphasized that Woll, the board president of Isaac Agree Downtown Synagogue, was kind, caring and inclusive.

“We are so fortunate to have had Sam in our lives,” said Stephanie Chang, a Michigan state senator and longtime friend who was with Woll, who was 40, at a wedding the night before her death. “I hope that each of us will remember Sam for the beautiful human being that she was and as someone who loves bridging divides, and as someone who was a promoter of justice, equity and being welcoming to all people.”

Her brother-in-law, Ben Rosen, recalled Woll’s contribution to a “somewhat heated family email discussion” about politics several weeks ago, before war broke out in Israel.

“You ended your beautiful email with the following line: ‘If and where there are disconnects between some of the people who follow Black Lives Matter and the Jewish community, then our communities need to engage with each other more, not less,’” Rosen said. “This is your legacy that we will always remember and carry forward.”

Addressing her sister directly, Monica Woll Rosen revealed that flowers Woll had ordered had been delivered to a friend after her death.

“You so deeply wanted peace for this world. You fought for everyone, regardless of who they were or where they came from. You were the definition of a leader,” Woll Rosen said. “Our world is shattered without you.”


Support your Jewish community. Support your Jewish News

Thank you for helping to make Jewish News the leading source of news and opinion for the UK Jewish community. Today we're asking for your invaluable help to continue putting our community first in everything we do.

For as little as £5 a month you can help sustain the vital work we do in celebrating and standing up for Jewish life in Britain.

Jewish News holds our community together and keeps us connected. Like a synagogue, it’s where people turn to feel part of something bigger. It also proudly shows the rest of Britain the vibrancy and rich culture of modern Jewish life.

You can make a quick and easy one-off or monthly contribution of £5, £10, £20 or any other sum you’re comfortable with.

100% of your donation will help us continue celebrating our community, in all its dynamic diversity...


Being a community platform means so much more than producing a newspaper and website. One of our proudest roles is media partnering with our invaluable charities to amplify the outstanding work they do to help us all.


There’s no shortage of oys in the world but Jewish News takes every opportunity to celebrate the joys too, through projects like Night of Heroes, 40 Under 40 and other compelling countdowns that make the community kvell with pride.


In the first collaboration between media outlets from different faiths, Jewish News worked with British Muslim TV and Church Times to produce a list of young activists leading the way on interfaith understanding.


Royal Mail issued a stamp honouring Holocaust hero Sir Nicholas Winton after a Jewish News campaign attracted more than 100,000 backers. Jewish Newsalso produces special editions of the paper highlighting pressing issues including mental health and Holocaust remembrance.

Easy access

In an age when news is readily accessible, Jewish News provides high-quality content free online and offline, removing any financial barriers to connecting people.

Voice of our community to wider society

The Jewish News team regularly appears on TV, radio and on the pages of the national press to comment on stories about the Jewish community. Easy access to the paper on the streets of London also means Jewish News provides an invaluable window into the community for the country at large.

We hope you agree all this is worth preserving.

read more: