Hate graffiti, knife found at Israeli reform synagogue

AP News
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Posted: Nov 24, 2016 6:54 AM

JERUSALEM (AP) — Hate graffiti against liberal streams of Judaism was found on Thursday, sprawled on the walls of a reform synagogue in the Israeli city of Raanana and death threats addressed to some reform leaders were found at the scene, along with a knife.

Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said an investigation is underway.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netnayahu condemned the vandalism. "Such acts have no place in our free society," he said in a statement.

Photographs in the Haaretz newspaper show envelopes with names of some of the leaders, including the president of America's Union for Reform Judaism, Rabbi Rick Jacobs and also Anat Hoffman, the chair of Women of the Wall.

Hoffman's group is pushing for equal rights for non-orthodox streams of Judaism at the Western Wall in Jerusalem, the holiest site where Jews can pray.

The site is administered by ultra-Orthodox authorities, who have a monopoly over religious affairs in Israel and oppose mixed-gender or female-led prayers.

Israel's Cabinet voted this year to build a new plaza for mixed-gender prayer at the Western Wall, adjacent to the current Orthodox prayer plaza. It was viewed as a victory for liberal streams of Judaism, but religious elements in Netanyahu's coalition government oppose the plan.

The delays in implementing the deal have added to strains between Netanyahu's government and the liberal streams of Judaism that are dominant in the United States.