Sister city synagogue hit again by vandals
Reform congregation tagged with graffiti in Ra’anana, Israel
The Kehilat Ra’anan synagogue in Ra’anana
January 30, 2014
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.”
‘An attack on all of us’
ON JAN. 30, the Greater MetroWest Community received disturbing and sad news from its partner community in Ra’anan. The Samueli Center for Progressive Judaism, the home of IMPJ congregation Kehilat Ra’anan, had been vandalized. The vandals spray-painted citations to passages from the Psalms and from Rambam. It is ironic that vandals have chosen to desecrate a synagogue with citations from Jewish passages that warn about the sins of disparaging people, embarrassing people, and profaning sacred things.
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.
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’anan and Israel. We stand with Kehilat Ra’anan in its important work of making Judaism accessible to everyone and engaging in continuous, productive dialogue with all branches of Judaism. We hope that this crime will be condemned by all streams of Judaism and that the authorities will be able to detect and punish the criminals that stand behind it.
The violation The violation of a synagogue touches not only the community that worships there, but also your friends in Greater MetroWest and all Jews who seek a more Jewish pluralistic society in Israel. May the voices of hatred be silenced, and may Kehilat Ra’anan continue to be an ethical light for Israel and thus go from strength to strength.
Chair, Religious Pluralism Committee
Jewish Federation of Greater MetroWest NJ