Worshippers arrived at a Jerusalem synagogue for morning prayers on Tuesday to discover that it had been vandalized, with Torah scrolls and Jewish artifacts thrown on the floor.
The Siach Yisrael synagogue in Kiryat Hayovel, serving primarily a French-speaking community, was broken into overnight on Monday. According to reports, the ark at the front of the synagogue, which protects the community’s Torah scrolls, was sliced open, and the scrolls were extracted, dumped on the floor in the dirt and dust resulting from the destruction of the ark, and doused in cleaning fluid.
Police are investigating the incident.
While there have been heated disagreements between the secular and Orthodox populations in Kiryat Hayovel over the use of resources and the look and feel of the neighborhood, including a serious debate over the creation of religious eruv dividers in March of last year, authorities have not currently implicated secular neighbors in the attack, and are investigating the incident as a hate crime.
The community expressed additional sadness in noting that the synagogue’s sanctuary was named after Rabbi Yonatan Sandler, a 30-year-old French rabbi who was murdered along with his two sons by a Muslim terrorist in May 2012 in Toulouse, France.
Monday night’s incident drew the attention of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who said he was “shocked” and hoped the perpetrators would be caught quickly.
Interior Minister and ultra-Orthodox Shas Party head Aryeh Deri called the attack an “outrageous anti-Semitic pogrom at a synagogue here in the Land of Israel.”
Jerusalem Mayor Moshe Lion called the vandalism “a grave event reminiscent of dark periods of the Jewish people.”
The attack comes days after Jewish prayerbooks were found burned in a Netanya synagogue serving an English-speaking community, along with graffiti of a pentagram and the words “Hail Satan.”