Two non-Orthodox synagogues in Ra’anana attacked in one-week span

| May 24, 2010

Two non-Orthodox synagogues in Ra'anana have been vandalized in the space of one week.

On Thursday vandals threw bricks at the Ra'anana Masorti Congregation, breaking two of the Conservative synagogue's windows, and the week before, vandals broke six windows in the Reform synagogue Kehilat Ra'anan, according to police reports filed by members of both congregations.

The fact that both incidents occured within a short time and that both involved the breaking of windows in non-Orthodox synagogues has led some members of the congregations to conclude that intolerance toward the Conservative and Reform movements was behind the incidents.

"This is a period of increased tensions among sectors in Israeli society," said Rabbi Gilad Kariv, the executive director of the Israel Movement for Progressive Judaism, as Israel's Reform movement is formally called. "We very much hope this is a one-time incident or the actions of one person who can be stopped." Kariv said he expected city officials and Orthodox leaders in Ra'anana to condemn the incidents.

Ra'anana Mayor Nahum Hofri had instructed the city's security patrol to beef up its presence near the synagogues and install security cameras.

"The Ra'anana municipality takes a harsh view of any attempt at vandalism of public buildings and other institutions in the city," the municipality said in a statement.

This isn't the first time the city's Reform synagogue, which also houses the movement's kindergartens in Ra'anana, has been targeted, said synagogue chairwoman Judith Katzin. She said its windows were broken two years ago, and again two months ago. The perpetrators, she said, have not been caught.

Although this is the first time the Masorti Congregation in Ra'anana has been vandalized, the head of the Conservative movement in Israel said the attack could be part of a countrywide pattern of intolerance.

"Ra'anana is known for its tolerance. We believe and hope that these are isolated incidents and don't represent a trend," said Yizhar Hess, the movement's executive director. "However, it is hard to shake the feeling that over the past few months, extremists have been setting a new, violent threshold for religious harassment in Israel."

Hess said arsonists had attempted to set fire to a Conservative synagogue in Arad three months ago, the second such attempt at the same site.

He also said a Conservative woman named Noa Raz was beaten by an ultra-Orthodox man at the central bus station in Be'er Sheva earlier this month after he noticed the imprints of tefillin lines on her arms.

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Category: Synagogue/Jewish Security