Kehilat Ra’anan in Ra’anana — a partnership community of United Jewish Communities of MetroWest — was vandalized overnight April 13. Assailants broke six windows of the Progressive, or Reform, synagogue and spraypainted a black star of David with the words “It’s begun” on its exterior walls. Police have begun an investigation.
Ra’anana Mayor Nahum Hofri told The Jerusalem Post on Thursday that the act does not characterize Ra’anana, “a city of tolerance and exemplary coexistence” that respects all streams of Judaism.
“This is the third time in the past year that the synagogue is vandalized,” said Rabbi Gilad Kariv, head of the Reform movement in Israel. The latest incident is a “severe attack, which also shows there are elements concerned over the community’s success,” he said.
Despite the damage, the synagogue’s preschools functioned as usual on Thursday, the congregation’s Rabbi Tamar Kolberg told the Post, noting that “such incidents happen to us all the time, especially before the holidays.”
“But these acts won’t stop the [Reform] movement or our community; they just strengthen our belief that Israeli society has a long way to go before it reaches true pluralism,” she said.
UJC MetroWest efforts to promote pluralism in Ra’anana “are cutting edge and crossing streams,” said Amir Shacham, director of the organization’s Israel office. But, he said, “I guess we are not there yet.”
UJC MetroWest president Gary O. Aidekman issued a statement saying the organization was “truly dismayed by the hateful vandalism” and citing the “long and deeply felt relationship” it has with the town and citizens of Ra’anana and Kehilat Ra’anan. “For many years we have worked in Ra’anana with all religious streams and with secular institutions, including MetroWest High School, to help establish Ra’anana as a model of tolerance and pluralism,” said Aidekman. UJC MetroWest called upon the municipality and “all citizens of good will to actively work to bring to justice these criminals and to restore mutual understanding and respect in our partnership community. We stand ready to help.”
A group of Orthodox rabbis in Ra’anana issued a statement the day after the attack, saying, “We were shocked to hear about the shameful attack on the Reform synagogue in Ra’anana last night.
“Although we have significant ideological differences with the Reform community, there is no place for violence. Jewish tradition is a tradition of love, brotherhood, and peace.” The Jewish tradition, the statement continued, “commands us to love every Jew in spite of all differences of opinion and views….” There is no place “for hatred and violence and therefore we protest the criminal act….”