Burned books and graffiti at Tel Aviv synagogue.
(photo credit: POLICE SPOKESPERSON'S UNIT)
The Tel Aviv International Synagogue fell victim over the weekend to vandalism that is thought to be a reaction to the arson attack on the Max Rayne Hand in Hand School on Saturday night.
The outer wall of the synagogue was spray-painted with the comment, “In a place where a Jewish state bill will be legislated, books will be burned,” and a pile of burnt books left at the site.
Rabbi Ariel Konstantyn, who heads the Orthodox synagogue, which is known for its inclusive and tolerant outlook, labeled the attack as “anti-Semitic,” and said he suspected that the vandalism was carried out as a response to the arson attack on the Jerusalem school on Saturday.
“It is ironic and shocking that they targeted a synagogue where every perspective is respected and welcomed and where Jews are taught to love each other regardless of their political views,” said the rabbi.
Konstantyn pointed out that the founding of the International Synagogue was an initiative of the Tzohar rabbinical organization, which funds its activities, in order to serve as a hub of inclusive outreach to the greater Tel Aviv community.
Over the past few years the synagogue has hosted programs for Shabbat and the Jewish holidays for thousands of Jews from all walks of life and political backgrounds.
Konstantyn said the incident had been reported to the police.
Tzohar also expressed concern over the incident, as well as the increasing social tensions in the country surrounding the contentious “Jewish state” bill.
“Without pointing fingers, I call on leaders from both the Right and Left of the political spectrum to deal with the issue of the proposed ‘Jewish state’ legislation calmly and responsibly,” said Tzohar’s founder and chairman, Rabbi David Stav.
He said however that the attack was an indicator of the lack of respect that exists within certain groups in society.
“Rather than promote a healthy dialogue with other Jews who think differently, these individuals are resorting to the tactics of terrorists,” Stav said.
“We are all entitled to have differing viewpoints on the challenges facing our society but anyone who resorts to violence of this nature – and in particular who targets a holy sanctuary – deserves to be condemned in all possible manners.”