International Federation of Reform and Progressive Religious Zionists

Conservative Synagogue in Israel Damaged By Arson

The Association of Reform Zionists of America (ARZA), on behalf of the Union for Reform Judaism, condemns in the strongest possible terms the attempt on Monday night to destroy Shira Hadasha , a Conservative synagogue in Arad, Israel. The attack comes a year after another attempt to burn down the synagogue and days after an attempted break-in there.

Though the perpetrators of this crime have yet to be caught, this act of vandalism against a non-Orthodox synagogue must be seen in the context of growing violence and fanaticism within the Israeli ultra-Orthodox community. In recent months there have been riots in Jerusalem directed at those who would park in a municipal lot on the Sabbath and at those going to work at an Intel plant on Saturday. An increasing number of bus lines are segregated, forcing women to sit in the back of busses, and two members of Women of the Wall have been either arrested or interrogated for the crime of wearing a tallit at the Western Wall.

Given recent statements by ultra-Orthodox leaders directed against the Reform and Conservative movements in Israel, and given the atmosphere of hate that results from such statements and actions, it cannot be a coincidence that attacks against synagogue buildings would follow. We call upon the civil authorities in Israel to investigate any and all acts of violence directed against non-Orthodox Jews or institutions and hope that the perpetrators of these crimes will quickly be brought to justice. Attacks against individuals and Jewish institutions are intolerable in the one country in the world that declares itself to be the homeland for all Jews, no matter their religious orientation.

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