Local Jewish leaders expressed dismay after a building housing a Reform synagogue in the central Israeli city of Ra’anana was vandalized with graffiti.
Ra’anana is a partnership community of the Jewish Federation of Greater MetroWest NJ, which has worked to promote pluralism in the city and ease tensions among its religious streams.
“Here in the Greater MetroWest community, we feel that we are a part of the community of Kehilat Ra’anan, and that the community of Kehilat Ra’anan is a part of Greater MetroWest. This hateful attack is an attack on all of us,” said David Leit, chair of the federation’s Religious Pluralism Committee, about last Thursday’s graffiti attack on the Samueli Center for Progressive Judaism, which houses the synagogue. “We stand with Kehilat Ra’anan in condemning such narrow-minded acts. This is clearly the act of misguided extremists and does not represent the broader Jewish community in Ra’anana and Israel.” (See full statement in sidebar.)
The graffiti found on the outside of the synagogue building included quotes from medieval sage Moses Maimonides disparaging “non-believers,” according to the Jerusalem Post.
The synagogue was previously vandalized, most recently before Thursday’s incident in April 2011.
Rabbi Gilad Kariv, head of the Israel Religious Action Center based in Jerusalem, in a statement called the vandalism a “price tag” incident presumably carried out by Orthodox extremists.
Rabbi Tamar Kolberg, religious leader at the Kehilat Ra’anan synagogue, said in a letter to supporters that the graffiti were intended to describe the congregation as “blasphemous.”
“Of course these are voices of extremists, and yet I know very well that not enough is being done actively in Israeli society to combat the lack of pluralism. This issue is not on the agenda of public education at all,” she wrote.
Added Kolberg: “We need to concentrate more efforts in this field because the real danger to our society is not from outside but from within — and this issue of Jewish pluralism is one of the many internal issues that are creating hate and animosity and a deep rift between large groups.”