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Aktiv gegen Nazi-Propaganda!
Jüdische Weisheit


June 25, 2000
Jerusalem, Israel


In the latest in a series of attacks, Kehillat Ya'ar Ramot, the 
Masorti (Conservative) synagogue in Ramot, a neighborhood in 
north Jerusalem, was firebombed right after the conclusion 
of Shabbat last night.  
The synagogue had been attacked just last month when its 
front doors were burnt.  It has also been vandalized with 
graffiti in recent weeks.

Just a week ago the windows of another Masorti synagogue in Beer Sheva were
smashed.  A little over a year ago, the kindergarten of a Reform
congregation in Meveseret Zion was destroyed.

The fire at Kehillat Ya'ar Ramot was started when vandals threw burning
rags through windows that they smashed.  The fire destroyed several prayer
books and Pentateuchs and caused extensive smoke and other
damage.  Fortunately however, the synagogue's three Torah scrolls were

Rabbi Richard A. Block, President of The World Union for Progressive
Judaism, stated that "The World Union condemns the cowardly and despicable
act of arson committed last night against Kehillat Ya'ar Ramot, a Masorti
(Conservative) synagogue in Jerusalem.   Such a crime would be shocking and
intolerable anywhere in the world.  How much the more so in a Jewish
state.  Such attacks do not occur in a vacuum.  As Israel's recent past
demonstrates, to our boundless sorrow, vile and violent language, whether
directed at individuals or at groups inevitably leads to vile and violent
deeds.  The World Union calls upon law enforcement authorities to bring
those responsible for last night's arson speedily to justice.  It expects
the political leaders of Jerusalem and the State of Israel to condemn this
and all similar actions, swiftly, publicly, and without equivocation.  It
calls upon the leaders of other streams and movements of Judaism, including
those who do not accept the legitimacy of Non-Orthodox expressions of
Judaism, to do likewise."

Rabbi Uri Regev, Director of The Israel Religious Action Center, condemned
the outrageous assault on the Masorti synagogue, pointing out that while
this time it was one Non-Orthodox synagogue, all Non-Orthodox institutions
are in danger of being the next victim. He also said, "While we certainly
decry incidents of violence, no one is addressing the root cause of the
problem - that is the ideology that there is only one authentic
Judaism.  No only do authorities need to speak out at times of violence,
they also need to attack the mentality that refuses to recognize the
Non-Orthodox streams in all religious matters including such basic matters
as marriage ceremonies performed in Israel."

Among the first on the scene was Masorti Rabbi Andrew Sacks, Director of
the Rabbinical Assembly in Israel.  He described what he found: "I was on
my way home from Ramot when I saw flashing red lights in the distance.  As
a member of Kehilat Yaar Ramot, and I pulled over, we saw that the police,
ambulances, and fire trucks had stopped right in front of the Masorti
shul.  Within seconds I was in the sanctuary.  I saw a sight that I never
hope to see again.  The smoke was so think that I went down onto my
belly.  I could see to my left a line of fire.  My first thoughts were for
the Sifrei Torah.  But the fire was off to the side.  Within seconds the
firemen were in and within minutes the fire was extinguished.  Only then
were we able to see what had actually occurred.  The synagogue building had
been closed and locked around 9:00 PM. About 15 minutes later the windows
to the sanctuary were smashed with large rocks. Rags, soaked in a flammable
material were thrown inside and a dozen chairs, the row closest to the
windows, caught fire.  I came in as they were ablaze.  Had the fire
department arrived only a few minutes later - I dread to think of what
might have been."

A story in the June 25th Jerusalem Post, by Aryeh Dean Cohen, quoted Rabbi
David Bateman, the rabbi of the synagogue: "Our heart is torn.  It's hard
to imagine that any other Jew could perpetrate this kind of act of
vandalism and destruction against a synagogue.  Even if, according to their
opinion, it doesn't have the sanctity of a synagogue, it certainly houses
kosher Torah scrolls and is at the very least the physical property of
other people."

The Jerusalem Post story continued: "'After the last attack we had
responses from [Science, Sport and Culture Minister Matan] Vilna'i,
[Foreign Minister] David Levy, [Communications Minister Binyamin]
Ben-Eliezer, [Tourism Minister Amnon] Lipkin-Shahak - not a word from the
Religious Affairs Ministry, not from [Minister Michael] Melchior, not from
[Jerusalem Mayor Ehud] Olmert. And maybe had they reacted, things would
have been different. If the Chief Rabbi had come out against such behavior,
maybe it could have been prevented,' said synagogue president Hilary

Masorti Movement President Rabbi Ehud Bandel said both he and the Movement
are "very angry" about the attack.  'I think that the lack of a strong
response by the authorities the last time sent a message of encouragement
to those radical groups,' he said.  Bandel said he expects the police and
the other responsible authorities to provide better protection for the
synagogue. 'The problem is the lack of proper response from the
authorities,' he said, adding that when such an incident occurs, he would
have expected Olmert to be one of the first at the scene.

On Israel Radio today, for the first time in this incident, Chief Rabbi
Meir Yisrael Lau condemned the attack on the synagogue, saying that
violence against the streams is not the way to conduct debate.  Later
Jerusalem Mayor Ehud Olmert joined in the condemnation of the attack.

The Anti-Defamation League office in Jerusalem last night issued a
statement saying: 'we call upon law enforcement authorities to investigate
and prosecute the perpetrators of this heinous crime to the full extent of
the law. Equally important, we call upon religious leaders of all streams
of Judaism and other religions in the city to come together and denounce
the desecration of any house of worship.'"

Emails expressing your outrage can be sent to and we will
forward them on to the appropriate authorities and to the Masorti Movement
in Israel.

For further information on the subject of religion and state, see our
website at
For action alerts and updates from North America see the ARZA/World Union
NA website at


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