Fire outside Congregation Beth Israel in Austin
Fire outside Congregation Beth Israel in Austin Austin Fire Department

Hundreds of people demonstrated in Austin, Texas on Sunday against a series of anti-Semitic incidents that took place in the city over the last several weeks.

The multiple acts against Austin’s Jewish community culminated in a fire set outside Congregation Beth Israel synagogue for which an 18-year old suspect was later arrested.

The fire, set on Halloween night, caused an estimated $25,000 of damage to the building, according to the Austin Fire Department.

The Rally for Kindness, featuring community and state leaders, sought to speak out against anti-Semitic acts in the Austin area, KXAN reported. It was organized by local Jewish group ATXKind, Shalom Austin and the regional chapter of the Anti-Defamation League.

Rabbi Steven Folberg, addressing the crowd on Sunday afternoon, condemned the arson but added that he is resolved that his synagogue will be stronger than ever.

“You act lovingly but you act with strength,” he said.

Rick Rosenberg, board chair of Shalom Austin, called the acts “unacceptable” and said that the anti-Semitic actions of a few do not represent the whole city of Austin.

“They do not represent what Austin has been and what it will become,” he said.

Austin Mayor Steve Alder, who is Jewish, thanked the large crowd for coming out in support of the Jewish community, saying that their presence made the community feel safer.