'A small incident, but big hatred'

Vandals attack Conservative shul in Modiin during Tisha B’Av service

Assailants barricade front doors, tie ropes to trip congregants on eve of fast day commemorating destruction of Jewish Temples

Judah Ari Gross is The Times of Israel's religions and Diaspora affairs correspondent.

Jewish men praying during the fast of Tisha B'Av at the Western Wall in the Old City of Jerusalem, July 25, 2015. (Mendy Hechtman/Flash90)
Jewish men praying during the fast of Tisha B'Av at the Western Wall in the Old City of Jerusalem, July 25, 2015. (Mendy Hechtman/Flash90)

Vandals targeted a Conservative synagogue in the central Israeli city of Modiin on Saturday night, during the congregation’s opening service of the Tisha B’Av fast.

The front doors of the Yedid Nefesh synagogue were barricaded with potted plants, and ropes were tied at two locations to trip congregants who were exiting the building.

The Masorti Movement is the Israeli branch of Conservative Judaism, with synagogues located around the country.

Photographs of the vandalism were posted to Facebook by the movement on Sunday afternoon. The post referenced the fast day, which commemorates the destruction of the two Jewish temples and many other atrocities that befell the Jewish people throughout history, and called the actions “baseless hatred in Modiin.”

In the Jewish tradition, the Second Temple is said to have been destroyed because of “baseless hatred” — an internal struggle between various factions of the Jewish people.

“The congregants went home with a great sense of unease,” the group said in a statement. “This is ostensibly a small incident — a few planters and some ropes — but it could have ended in serious bodily harm.”

The identity of the vandal or vandals is not yet known, nor is the motivation: whether it was directed specifically at the Conservative movement or was just a random act of vandalism.

But, the group said, it believes the intention was to attack the pluralistic community. “This was not done spontaneously. A small incident, but big hatred,” said Yizhar Hess, executive director of the Masorti Movement.

The congregation filed a complaint with police on Sunday.

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