Burned Mevo Horon synagogue
Burned Mevo Horon synagogueMevo Horon

Residents of the small town of Mevo Horon in southwestern Samaria are still reeling from the destruction of the local synagogue, which went up in flames before dawn Monday morning. The synagogue itself and the Torah scrolls within were destroyed, leaving residents in shock just hours before the start of the traditional Tisha B’Av fast to mourn the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple.

The town secretary, Shalom Horowitz, spoke with Arutz Sheva about reaction to the fire.

“People here are in shock,” said Horowitz. “Everyone is crowding around these difficult images [of the burned synagogue and Torah scrolls]. People are feeling the mourning [associated with] Tisha B’Av – they can’t grasp [what has happened].

The fire was first spotted at around 5:00 a.m. on Monday, Horowitz said, and completely destroyed the building.

“We were called here at 5:00 a.m.; everything was burned including furniture and the Torah scrolls; it’s a miracle that the fire didn’t spread to the nearby houses. But the synagogue was completely destroyed.

It remains unclear how the fire began, and whether any foul play was involved.

“There are fire investigators here and firefighters, but right now we don’t have any idea how this fire started.”

While several other synagogues exist in Mevo Horon, Horowitz said the one which was burned was the primary place of worship in the town on weekdays.

“This synagogue was a prefab building which was currently being used as the most active synagogue during weekdays; on Shabbat there are other synagogues, but during the week this is the town synagogue.”

At this point, said Horowitz, it remains unclear where residents will pray Tuesday evening at the end of the fast.

“We need to prepare for this evening; perhaps worshippers will be able to pray in an auditorium, or maybe they’ll have to pray in other synagogues – this requires a big logistical change.”