A pall of horror descended upon Jerusalem's French Hill
neighborhood on Shabbos morning, 7 Sivan, when its residents
learned of the desecration of the Torah scrolls in one
neighborhood synagogue and vandalism in another. Thugs broke
into two synagogues before dawn, wreaking havoc, stealing
valuable objects, and desecrating the Torah scrolls in one.
Police have launched an investigation.
On Shabbos morning close to 4 AM, vandals broke into the
neighborhood's central Sephardic synagogue, Neve David,
shattering its window panes. A sophisticated alarm system
protecting the aron kodesh prevented them from
damaging the Torah scrolls.
However the vandals managed to steal the synagogue's
amplifier system, used during droshos and shiurim
during the week. Sifrei kodesh were desecrated, and the
synagogue looked like there had been a pogrom. When the
gabai arrived at 3:50, he noticed people fleeing the
site in a private car.
He entered the synagogue and, to his shock, discovered that
it was a shambles. Startled by the terrible appalling havoc,
he proceeded to the main Ashkenazic synagogue, Ohel Shmuel --
in the same complex -- and discovered there a similar
horrifying scene. The aron kodesh was open: its steel
door having been broken by a rod. Torah scrolls were strewn
on the floor. The Torah crown, along with additional silver
items, had been stolen.
Because it was Shabbos, all the gabai could do was to
arrange the Torah scrolls in their places. Members of the
synagogue coming to pray did everything possible within the
bounds of the laws of Shabbos to straighten the place.
Police arriving on the scene began an investigation of this
Neighborhood residents and synagogue members were both
incensed and disconcerted, since they thought that the
vandalism might have been committed by Jewish thugs
influenced by the incitement and hate directed of late
against the Torah-observant sectors in eretz hakodesh.
In the afternoon, however, French Hill residents found the
stolen silver items in a nearby field on a road leading to a
nearby Arab village. Local residents thus did not rule out
the possibility that the crime had been perpetrated by Arabs
wanting to steal the synagogues' silver items and
Police told the gabaim that are not fully equipped to
contend with thieves from nearby Arab villages. However, they
did not exclude the possibility that the burglary was
committed by base individuals who deliberately sought to
destroy the synagogues. All angles are being investigated by
Neighborhood rabbonim have asked police to investigate the
affair as soon as possible and to apprehend the perpetrators
and bring them to justice. It is impossible to remain silent
in the face of so shocking and disgraceful a crime, they
French Hill residents say that although there have been
similar occurrences in the past in neighborhood synagogues,
police have done nothing to apprehend the vandals.
At a meeting held on motzei Shabbos, with HaRav Boruch
Shraga and HaRav Michael Halpern, the rabbonim of the
neighborhood and neighborhood activists, it was decided to
hold a selichos and ta'anis rally this coming
Thursday night as an expression of shock over the desecration
of the Torah scrolls.