Jerusalem Synagogue Defaced by Anonymous Vandals

Police opens investigation into incident ■ 'Such a thing can't be in Jerusalem, in the land of Israel. We know these solely from dark periods in the Diaspora,' says Jerusalem Mayor Moshe Leon

'Siyach Yisrael' synagogue in Jerusalem, January 29, 2019
Israel Police

A synagogue in Jerusalem was defaced Monday overnight as vandals broke in and damaged its Torah ark, facilities and books. Police has opened an investigation into the matter.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he was "shocked" at the incident, writing on Twitter that "police must find those responsible immediately and ensure they are brought to justice."

Exiting the scene, Jerusalem Mayor Moshe Leon said "I've seen a lot of unpleasant scenes, crime scenes, I've never seen something like this. Four Torah books thrown on the ground, they simply defiled them …. Such a thing can't be in Jerusalem, in the land of Israel. We know these solely from dark periods in the Diaspora."

Israel's chief rabbi, David Lau, said that "this brutal desecration will not stand. Sadly, this is not the first of such cases recently, and I expect the Israel Police to treat this as a hate crime as any and concentrate its maximum efforts that those responsible for this heinous crime be indicted."

Shas party chairman Arye Dery said he was appalled at the sight of the synagogue. "It's hard to believe how such a despicable, anti-Semitic pogrom could happen in a synagogue, here in the land of Israel." Dery said he would speak to the Jerusalem District commander in an attempt to ascertain how "such a terrible thing could happen."

Dr. Yizhar Hess, the CEO of the Conservative Judaism movement in Israel, also condemned the act in a statement, calling it a "vile act like no other."

Torah ark in the 'Siyach Yisrael' synagogue in Jerusalem, January 29, 2019
Israel Police

"As our movement, the Conversative movement, has experienced more than once the defilement and vandalization of our synagogues, I look at the devastating photos of Torah books thrown on the floor in the Orthodox synagogue in Kiryat Yovel in Jerusalem, and can't help but feel the same lump in my throat," read the statement.

Hess said he can only that "all the Haredi politicians condemning [the act] on all the outlets will also remember to do the same when it is one of our synagogues that's hurt."

French Ambassador Hélène Le Gal expressed her shock at the act, saying "The vandalization of the hall in memory of Jonatan Sandler, one of the victims of the anti-Semitic terror at Toulouse in 2012, is a disgrace."

United Torah Judaism lawmaker Uri Maklev said "this acts are a direct result of incitement and hate." Maklev claimed this was not a spontaneous act, "but a planned and thought-out action. This is no the action of a single man but there is a public who is pleased with this, or god forbid, is looking the other way."

The MK said ignoring the incident is a "public test against such terrible acts."