Har Nof, Emmanuel Synagogues Damaged by Fire


For the second time in less than a week, fires raged in synagogues in Israel, this time in Emmanuel and Har Nof.

B’chasdei Shamayim, no one was hurt, but damage to the synagogue structures and sifrei kodesh was extensive.

The incidents followed fires at synagogues in Petach Tikva, where the structure was burned to the ground, and near Wadi Ara, where a Chabad synagogue in a caravan caught fire and was seriously damaged.

On Shavuos morning, a fire broke out in Emmanuel damaging dozens of sifrei kodesh before local firefighters and volunteers could extinguish it.

It appeared that the cause of the fire was the placement of yahrtzeit candles on a plastic chair.

On Shavuos afternoon, several fires were spotted burning in the Yerushalayim Forest. The multiple locations pointed to arson.

Aided by the hot, dry weather, one of the fires spread to the edges of Har Nof, where homes were endangered and a caravan serving as a synagogue caught fire.

Several fire and rescue units arrived to evacuate residents and bring the fire under control.

The fire caused damage to the synagogue and to two apartments in a nearby residential building before it was put out.

One person was lightly hurt from smoke inhalation.

In the Petach Tikva fire last Shabbos, investigators also found evidence of arson.

The perpetrator apparently poured a flammable liquid next to the aron kodesh, set the fire and ran away. The aron, lined with steel, was damaged, but the sifrei Torah inside were protected.

However, there was much damage to the rest of the building.

In contrast to the numerous headlines about so-called “price tag” attacks on mosques and churches in recent months, vandalism and fires in Jewish holy places have received negligble media coverage.

As one of the Petach Tikva synagogue’s members observed in an interview with Arutz Sheva, if the attackers had only written “price tag,” indicating a possible Jewish nationalist crime, there would have been a media storm over the incident. As it is, he noted, most of the press is not reporting the incident.