Reform temple in Jerusalem desecrated with swastika

JERUSALEM — The latest attack against a Reform institution in Israel has Reform leaders here greatly concerned.

On Tuesday morning, the rabbi of Jerusalem's Harel Reform Synagogue discovered that someone had painted swastikas and the words "Damned Wicked Ones" on the glass-enclosed billboard at the entrance to the temple.

Rabbi Ariel Yoel immediately called the police, who are investigating the incident.

Rabbi Uri Regev, director of the Reform movement's Israel Religious Action Center, called on the country's religious and political leaders to reject hate crimes unequivocally.

"We hope that the rabbinic and political leadership will wake up and realize that a message of mutual respect and tolerance must come from them," he said.

Noting that the week between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur is traditionally a time of soul-searching and atonement, Regev said, "It is sad that during the days of atonement, threatening statements of violence and hatred are made."

On Aug. 31, a firebomb was thrown through the window of a kindergarten operated by the Reform movement in Mevasseret Zion, a suburb of Jerusalem.

The private school, located in a rented apartment, was almost completely destroyed. It serves about 40 children between the ages of 3 and 5, and had been scheduled to open its doors Sept. 1, the first day of Israel's new school year.

Police have not yet found any suspects.

The two incidents took place at a time of heightened religious tensions in Israel. Non-Orthodox movements have been calling for an increased role in the country's religious life, which until now has been under the sole control of the Orthodox.