Stones thrown at Netanya Masorti worshipers on Shabbat

Orthodox rabbis, including former Shas minister, unite to condemn attack against Reform Ra'anana synagogue.

By JONAH MANDEL
April 17, 2011 20:43
3 minute read.
Netanya Mayor Miriam Feierberg-Ikar.

Netanya Mayor Miriam Feierberg-Ikar 311. (photo credit: Netanya City Hall)

Masorti (Conservative) worshipers exiting their synagogue in Netanya on Friday night were stoned – just a few days after a Reform synagogue in Ra’anana was vandalized by persons unknown.

Members of the Beit Yisrael congregation were met by youths who threw rocks at them at the end of the Shabbat service. According to eyewitnesses, the youths – who appeared to be religious – attempted to enter the building, but were deterred by the security cameras that were installed on the site, following two previous attacks.

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The youths then camped out behind a van parked across the street, and when the people exited the synagogue, pelted them with stones and fled the scene by foot.

None of the worshipers were wounded, and no damage befell the building. A complaint was filed with the police, who will be securing the synagogue soon.

On Sunday, Netanya Mayor Miriam Feierberg-Ikar strongly condemned violence against the worshippers.

“We believe that each person should be able to live according to their belief, and it’s these people’s right to act on their faith and outlook,” Feierberg-Ikar said.

Yizhar Hess, executive director and CEO of the Masorti Movement in Israel, said, “The vile wave of violence against non-Orthodox synagogues in Israel should be a warning signal to anyone who cares about democracy in Israel.

“The Masorti Movement has established eight new communities in Israel over the past two years,” he continued. “As the non-Orthodox communities continue to grow, the ugly face of Jewish fundamentalism in Israel is revealed. Some people just can’t deal with the fact that there is a different Judaism. These people are hateful Jews who know nothing about Rabbi Akiva’s principle of loving your neighbor as you love yourself.”

Meanwhile, Ra’anana Chief Rabbi Yitzhak Peretz, former Shas cabinet minister, added his name on Sunday to a letter of 14 Orthodox Ra’anana rabbis and public figures condemning the attack against his city’s Reform synagogue on Wednesday night – when unidentified assailants smashed six of the building’s windows and spray-painted “It has begun” on the wall.

Rabbi Tamar Kolberg, head of the Ra’anana congregation, Kehilat Raanan, noted the “serious problem of negative messages that trickle down from high up to low, and create a certain atmosphere – as if the speakers are trying to see how far they can push the limit of their rhetoric.”

Kolberg may have been alluding to Religious Services Minister Ya’acov Margi of Shas, who recently declared that legislation should determine that there are no streams in Judaism.

The letter stressed that the Torah is opposed to any acts of violence and harming others, and called on public leaders to eradicate the violence, and promote fraternity.

Rabbi Seth Farber, head of the Orthodox Netivot community, initiated the letter, which was read at a ceremony held at Kehilat Raanan on Friday night.

“Unfortunately, we only learn to recognize the ties that bind us at times of crisis,” he said on Sunday. “An attack on any religious institution is an attack on the Jewish people as a whole.

“It wasn’t easy to reach consensus within the Orthodox community regarding the reform synagogue,” Faber added, calling the outcome in the form of the letter “a real breakthrough for the Israeli Jewish community.”

“As we celebrate our national redemption, it is encouraging to know that our community can sometimes overcome its inhibitions and support those under attack,” he said.


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