In a troubling sign of increasing tensions within Israel over the disputed “Jewish State Bill,” a Tel Aviv synagogue was vandalized Sunday 8 Kislev with graffiti reading, “In a place where the Jewish Nation Bill will be legislated, books will be burned.” The vandals left a pile of burned books alongside the wall bearing the graffiti.
The attack took place at the The Tel Aviv International Synagogue where Ariel Konstantyn, originally of New York, serves as a Tzohar rabbi. Rabbi Konstantyn says the incident has been referred to the police but he views it as a “clear act of anti-Semitism.” According to the rabbi, the timing of the attack and the explicit graffiti seem to indicate that this was perpetrated by radical left-wing activists.
Rabbi Konstantyn expressed his shock saying “It is ironic and shocking that they targeted a synagogue where every perspective is respected and welcomed and where Jews are taught to love each other regardless of their political views.”
The rabbi pointed out that the founding of the International Synagogue was as initiative of the Tzohar Rabbinical Organization as a hub of inclusive outreach to the greater Tel-Aviv community. Over the past few years the synagogue has hosted Shabbat & holidays programming for thousands of Jews from all walks of life and political backgrounds.
Rabbi David Stav, Founder and Chairman of Tzohar says the violent attack is an indicator of the lack of respect that exists within certain groups in Israeli society. “Rather than promote a healthy dialogue with other Jews who think differently, these individuals are resorting to the tactics of terrorists,” Rabbi Stav said. “We are all entitled to have differing viewpoints on the challenges facing our society but anyone who resorts to violence of this nature- and in particular who targets a holy sanctuary- deserves to be condemned in all manner possible.”
“As an organization dedicated to guaranteeing the Jewish future of Israel, we understand and appreciate the differing viewpoints on the Jewish State Bill. This manner of disgraceful behavior is yet another alarming indicator of the need to remind us of who we are and what this country was founded for,” said Nachman Rosenberg, Executive Vice President of Tzohar.
Following the attack, many public officials spoke out condemning the attack, including Housing Minister Uri Ariel.
(YWN – Israel Desk, Jerusalem)