Vandals Hit Reform Synagogue in Ra'anana

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A Reform synagogue in Ra'anana was vandalized with graffiti, its rabbi confirmed Thursday. The incident was discovered early Thursday morning at the Ra'anan synagogue, which was previously vandalized in 2010 and 2011. 

"We were paid a visit by a Habayit Hayehudi deputy mayor and earlier by the Meretz deputy mayor, and both expressed their horror, condemning [the attack] as people from the public sphere and as private people," Ra'anan's Rabbi Tamar Kolberg told Haaretz Thursday morning.

"They hope it is not people from Ra'anana because Ra'anana citizens are more calm and quiet," she added. "We're not looking for anyone to blame. We want to work toward an open and free Jewish society in general and an open and free society in Israel."

The graffiti reads: "Rambam Hilchot Teshuvah, Chapter 3, Halacha 14" and "Psalms 139, verse 21-22."

The Rambam quote refers to the passage in which Maimonides declared that renegades, heretics and deniers of Torah do not have a place in the world to come, even though they are Jews, if they die before repenting.

The passages from Psalms read: "Do not I hate them, O Lord, that hate Thee? And do not I strive with those that rise up against Thee? I hate them with utmost hatred; I count them mine enemies."

Kfar Sava police have opened an investigation, according to Maariv.

Rabbi Gilad Kariv, executive director of the Israel Movement for Reform Judaism, told Haaretz it was the fifth time the congregants had suffered from harassment. He calle don the heads of the Orthodox Jewish community in Ra'anana to condemn the incident.

"The repeated damage to the Ra'anan synagogue proves that this is no isolated incident but rather a violent phenomenon that requires serious and fundamental handling at the police level and no less at the public and educational level," Kariv said. He said such attacks "will not deter us from serving thousands of families in Ra'anana who are interested in tolerant and egalitarian Judaism."

The Ra'anan Synagogue was also vandalized three times in a span of a number of months in 2010 and 2011. The attackers smashed windows, filling the prayer hall with broken glass in the third incident in April 2011. The Masorti synagogue in Ra'anana was hit in 2010. Police never arrested anyone in those other incidents, Rabbi Kolberg said.

Yizhar Hess, executive director of the Masorti Movement in Israel, told Haaretz about an attack in which a stone thrower broke a glass in the city's Conservative synagogue two years ago.

"It's shocking, but when extremist rabbis create a legitimate framework for hating one's brothers, it's not surprising," Hess said Thursday. "Those who did the sinful deed wanted to intimidate and to incite, but their way won't succeed."

Ra'anan Synagogue in the central Israeli city Ra'anana was found vandalized on Thursday, Jan. 30, 2014.Credit: Israel Police spokesman
The Reform movement's Ra’anan Synagogue in Ra’anana, with graffiti showing a Star of David and Hebrew words reading "It's starting," in 2011.Credit: Alon Ron

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