Rabbi Aryeh Stern
Rabbi Aryeh SternFlash 90

Jerusalem Chief Rabbi Aryeh Stern compared the desecration of a Jerusalem synagogue overnight to Nazi attacks on Jews during the Holocaust, and called on Israelis to publicly protest the vandalism.

On Tuesday morning, residents of the Kiryat Yovel neighborhood in Jerusalem discovered that the Siach Yisrael synagogue, which is affiliated with the neighborhood’s French immigrant community, was vandalized overnight. Torah scrolls were found vandalized on the floor, along with a number of prayer books.

"We were shocked to hear about the desecration of the synagogue in Kiryat HaYovel in Jerusalem,” Rabbi Stern wrote Tuesday. “We have no information as to who the criminals are, who desecrated the sacraments in this unbelievable way. And an answer will certainly be received from the police investigators.”

“It is incumbent upon all of us to protest against the perpetrators of this heinous crime, which is reminiscent of what we saw in the difficult years of the Holocaust by the Nazis. Now is the time to reflect on our own actions and to strengthen our sense of unity, of the people living in Zion.”

“Despite all the internal debates and divisions we have, we are united in saying that we will not accept this kind of thing.”

The Tzohar rabbinic organization also issued a formal condemnation of the incident and calling for the need to “educate about the dangers of intolerance”.

“A Beit Knesset [synagogue] deserves to be a place of sanctity between us and God. It is deeply distressing when we see a holy site vandalized in such a disturbing reflection of humanity's potential for hatred. Beyond capturing those responsible, we must ensure that this serves as an opportunity to educate about the dangers of intolerance, the importance of our synagogues and the need combat all such future types of violence.”

Earlier on Tuesday, Israel’s two chief rabbis responded to the desecration of the synagogue.

“This is a difficult morning for all Jews,” said Chief Ashkenazi Rabbi David Lau. “We need to think how such a thing happened in the holy city, Jerusalem.”

Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef, Israel’s Chief Sephardic Rabbi called the incident an ‘outrage’.

“The Jewish heart is outraged to see Torah scrolls disgracefully thrown on the [floor] in an incredible act of desecration inside a synagogue by lowly criminals. The authorities must leave no stone unturned to reach the criminals and bring them to justice.”