Western Wall Struggle Invoked in Attack on Ra’anana Synagogue

8 December 2016

A Reform synagogue in Ra’anana was vandalized in a hate crime just before Thanksgiving. Graffiti referring to biblical passages was sprayed on the walls of the Kehilat Ra’anan synagogue and envelopes containing death threats against Reform leaders were left outside the building.

“The divine presence will never leave the Western Wall” was sprayed on the front of the synagogue, alongside the references “Ovadia 18 and 21” and “Psalms 139:21-22.” The verses from Ovadia tell of the destruction of Israel’s enemies at the hand of a vengeful God, and the passage from Psalms reads as follows: “Did I not hate Your enemies, O Lord? With those who rise up against You, I quarrel. I hate them with utmost hatred; they have become my enemies.”

The death threats specifically targeted Rabbi Gilad Kariv, the executive director of the Israel Movement for Reform and Progressive Judaism; Rabbi Rick Jacobs, the president of the Union for Reform Judaism in America; and Israel Reform Action Center (IRAC) director Anat Hoffman. All three have been active in the campaign to create an egalitarian plaza at the Western Wall.

In response, Rabbi Kariv said: “This attack shows the urgent need to present a different type of Judaism to the public. We can’t let this hateful Judaism set the tone in Israel. These acts will not stop us from demanding our rights at the Kotel and continuing our educational and spiritual work across the country. We expect the Israeli leadership to understand that this is the time to draw a red line under this wave of incitement…Israeli politicians are not taking these threats seriously enough and we need to act before it’s too late and before we see acts of bloodshed.”

The Kehilat Ra’anan synagogue faced similar attacks in January 2014.

Following the incident, NIF grantee Tag Meir organized a solidarity visit to the synagogue.

Photo via Facebook