Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Arson scorches Modi'in synagogue entrance

Read this Jerusalem Post article to see how a Masorti synagogue was attacked last week in Modi'in, a new bedroom community between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. It is a crushing irony that in the birthplace of the Maccabees, some vandal decided to attack the very idea of freedom of religious expression itself. Police did not suspect the attack was religiously motivated, which is very interesting, considering that the fire came 10 days after a sign identifying the synagogue as part of the Masorti movement was affixed to the building. Also, this happened fresh on the heels of major court rulings supporting the liberal streams and a year after Modi'in became the first municipality to allocate land for non-Orthodox synagogues.

As reports, several years back, the windows of another Masorti synagogue in Beer Sheva were smashed. A little over a year before, the kindergarten of a Reform congregation in Meveseret Zion was destroyed. The fire at Kehillat Ya'ar Ramot was started when vandals threw burning rags through windows that they smashed. The fire destroyed several prayerbooks and Pentateuchs and caused extensive smoke and other damage. Fortunately however, the synagogue's three Torah scrolls were unharmed.

Rabbi Richard A. Block, President of The World Union for Progressive Judaism, stated back then that "The World Union condemns the cowardly and despicable act of arson committed last night against Kehillat Ya'ar Ramot.... Such a crime would be shocking and intolerable anywhere in the world. How much the more so in a Jewish state. Such attacks do not occur in a vacuum. As Israel's recent past demonstrates, to our boundless sorrow, vile and violent language, whether directed at individuals or at groups inevitably leads to vile and violent deeds. '

The Modi'in info blog says that the congregation will hold a pre-Shabbat solidarity vigil to affirm its commitment to tolerance and religious pluralism, and against violence, which some have construed as an indication that the synagogue administration does not believe the arson to be random.

Here is a communication sent by the Masorti leadership.

It is with great sorrow that we share with you that last night there was an arson attempt on the Masorti congregation, Yedid Nefesh, in Modiin. The unidentified perpetrators set fire to the entryway – causing its destruction. The metal doors prevented the fire from destroying the main structure. Congregation Yedid Nefesh, established over five years ago, moved into its own building just last year. It was one of the very few structures provided by the State for a non-Orthodox congregation. It was only ten days ago that a sign was erected identifying the congregation as part of the Masorti Movement. We join together in our support of Yedid Nefesh and its members. We shall provide for any resources they request. See for contact information.

Yizhar Hess Mankal, Masorti Movement in Israel

Imagine - all the horrors of Kristallnacht, in our very own state! Who needs the KKK when we have Jews who hate other Jews every bit as much. When Herzl envisioned a Zionist state with Jewish street cleaners, thieves and prostitutes, I don't imagine he had this in mind: Jewish arsonists who hate other Jews so much that they would burn down their synagogues.

Maybe the police are right and this is not a hate crime. But more likely they are part of the cover up. Would they be so quick to do that if an Arab were suspected? If that would be called terrorism, why not this?

Those who perpetrated this act of cowardice and hatred - and ALL those who enable them through their apathy, enmity and political sleaziness - should be ashamed.

Our sympathies go out to our cousins in Modi'in.

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