JERUSALEM — Ra’anana Chief Rabbi Yitzhak Peretz added his name to a letter condemning an attack on a Reform synagogue in the central Israel city, bringing to 14 the number of Orthodox rabbis and public figures who signed the document.
The World Union for Progressive Judaism also condemned the April 14 attack in Ra’anana, which is a sister community with United Jewish Communities of MetroWest NJ.
It is the third time Kehilat Ra’anan has been vandalized in the past year.
Six of the synagogue’s windows were smashed in by large rocks and a black star of David was spraypainted on the wall above the words “It has begun.”
City officials and the Reform umbrella group both indicated that the vandalism pointed to Jewish religious extremists, though police said they had no suspects.
In a statement released April 15, the World Union said that it “condemns all violence that is motivated by hatred and religious extremism. As we approach the season of Jewish freedom, we call on all government and NGO agencies to show their abhorrence of these wanton senseless acts, we are confident that government leaders will take the lead in this condemnation, and we call on Orthodox leaders throughout Israel to also show their disgust at this destructive inter-Jewish hatred.”
Ra’anana Mayor Nahum Hofree condemned what he called the “bullying,” saying the attack “does not characterize Ra’anana’s people. This is a city of tolerance and exemplary coexistence.”
The letter from Orthodox rabbis and leaders was initiated by Rabbi Seth Farber, the founding rabbi of the Orthodox Kehilat Netivot in Ra’anana and founder and director of ITIM: The Jewish Life Information Center.
“Although we have significant ideological differences with the Reform community, there is no place for violence,” the letter read in part. “Jewish tradition is a tradition of love, brotherhood, and peace.”
Last week, UJC MetroWest president Gary O. Aidekman issued a statement saying the organization was “truly dismayed by the hateful vandalism.”
In another incident of violence against a non-Orthodox synagogue, youths threw rocks at worshipers leaving a Masorti synagogue in Netanya on the Sabbath eve of April 15. The youths appeared to be Orthodox, eyewitnesses said, according to The Jerusalem Post.
The youths reportedly tried to enter the building but stopped when they saw security cameras. The building has been attacked twice in the past.
No worshipers were injured in the attack. A complaint was filed with police.
“As the non-Orthodox communities continue to grow, the ugly face of Jewish fundamentalism in Israel is revealed,” Yizhar Hess, executive director and CEO of the Masorti movement in Israel, told the Post. “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.”