Torah scrolls thrown on the floor in Hemed
Torah scrolls thrown on the floor in Hemed Israel news photo: Hemed synagogue

Residents of the religious moshav of Hemed in central Israel, near Yehud, whose synagogue was broken into and vandalized last week, described the incident on Sunday as looking like another "Kristallnacht" -- the 1938 "night of broken glass" pogrom in which thousands of Jewish stores and synagogues were vandalized and destroyed in Germany, in the lead-up to the Nazi Holocaust. 

“We came at 5 a.m. before the first minyan and then, to my shock, I saw, like in 'Kristallnacht', the holy books thrown everywhere, the Ark broken into,” Yitzchak Hershkowitz, Hemed’s Security Officer, told Arutz Sheva. “Upon checking the place I saw that four [silver] Torah crowns were stolen.”

In addition to the crowns, Hershkowitz said, the vandals broke into the synagogue’s tzedakah [charity] box, tore it off using a crowbar and stole the money that was in it.

He added, “The Ark was wide open, the [Torah scroll] parchment was rolled out like a carpet and had footprints with mud, as if someone had stepped on it as though they were stepping on a carpet. I don’t want to believe that a Jew could have done it. It would be extremely painful if, G-d forbid, a Jew did it.”

If that wasn’t enough, the burglars stole part of a very meaningful Torah scroll which the synagogue owns.

“The bigger tragedy is that we have a Torah scroll here in memory of Shmuel-Dan Maizlish z”l who died during Operation Defensive Shield,” Hershkowitz said. “These vile people broke the rods that hold up the Torah scroll and took them. Each rod costs 15,000 shekels.”

Hershkowitz added that he hopes the police will do their work efficiently and bring the criminals to justice.

"I don’t want to get into the investigation because the matter is still being investigated, but the police are taking care of it and I believe they’ll find the culprit very quickly.”

He noted that “there has been a wave of break-ins in the area, but those were ‘regular’ property crimes. Something of this magnitude hasn’t happened in the last 30 years, since Hemed was established. This is Kristallnacht.”

Hershkowitz said the synagogue's rabbi has called for a day of fasting in Hemed on Monday, during which the worshippers will gather at the synagogue and recite Selichot (repentance) prayers.

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