The artwork on this note card was created by 5768 WRJ Art Calendar artist Césan d’Ornellas Levine.
The Israel Religious Action Center has long brought our attention to the long, hard work that needs to be done to rid our Jewish homeland from violence, hate and discrimination. Unfortunately, IRAC was forced to remind us last week of just how much work there is to do. On Wednesday and Thursday, two religious buildings were torched, first a mosque in the West Bank town of K’fir Jab’a, then a Greek Orthodox Seminary in Jerusalem. Anat Hoffman, Executive Director of IRAC, discussed this in the IRAC newsletter, the Pluralist:
On Wednesday, a mosque in Kafr Jab'a, a West Bank village near Bethlehem, was torched. The attackers sprayed graffiti on the walls saying: "for the redemption of Zion," and "revenge." The next day, the Greek Orthodox Seminary on Mount Zion in Jerusalem was set on fire and hate graffiti was sprayed on the walls. The building houses a dormitory for dozens of 10-17 year old boys.
I visited the seminary the day after the attack, together with Rabbi Rick Jacobs, President of the Union for Reform Judaism, and Rabbi Noa Sattath, IRAC's Director. Five teens who live in the dormitory told us how they were woken up at 4:30 in the morning by firefighters who fought the blaze. The attackers set the fire after smashing the bathroom windows and pouring gallons of gasoline into the building. Thankfully, all the boys made it out of the building without injury.
The boys also told us how living in Jerusalem as Christians is a daily challenge. Yeshivah students routinely spit on them, particularly when they walk in the streets with their teachers, who are dressed in their traditional priestly robes.
This is unacceptable. The city council and police must increase enforcement of anti-harassment laws and take strong action against such acts of public humiliation and violence.
Following his visit to the seminary, Rabbi Rick Jacobs also released a statement, which called for these attacks to “not only be condemned, but stopped entirely.”