Police probe Bnei Brak shul arson attack

Name of a demon-like character spray-painted on the Holy Ark, gasoline spilled on the floor.

Bnei brak shul attack 1  (photo credit: Israel Police)
Bnei brak shul attack 1
(photo credit: Israel Police)
The name of a demon-like character from ancient Jewish literature was spray-painted on a Bnei Brak synagogue's ark and floor during a failed arson attempt on Tuesday. Worshipers who arrived at the synagogue in the early morning found spilled gasoline and the graffiti reading: "Semael" and "Semael=Messiah." "We have launched an investigation, we are searching for the arsonist," a Tel Aviv District police spokeswoman said. A serial arsonist might be operating in the area, police said, noting that three other synagogues in Bnei Brak had been attacked. The spokeswoman refused to comment on whether a "satanic cult" might be behind Tuesday's arson attempt. "Semael" has traditionally been associated in early Hebrew literature with an angel who rebelled against God and became "blind" to divine ways, pursuing a path of evil. Samael is first mentioned in a text from 64 BCE in reference to an angel who fell from heaven and had sex with women. In later texts, the character is often associated with evil and satanic forces.