WASHINGTON (Jan. 13)
Rep. Larry Hogan, Maryland Republican, today deplored the bombings Saturday night of Shaare Tikvah Synagogue in Prince Georges County, M.D. and said he may initiate action for stronger Federal anti-bombing laws. Rep. Hogan told Congress, “American people will not tolerate terrorist attacks on houses of worship…The time has come to review anti-bombing statutes to determine what additional stronger Federal legislation might be adopted to punish and discourage such terrorism.” He said, “to ignore such a reprehensible deed as the bombing of a synagogue is to invite further depredations of this nature. We are dealing here with not only a desecration of a sacred edifice but a grave threat to lives of innocent persons.” He said he is studying existing statutes and would consider sponsoring “entirely new legislation” if needed.
The shattering explosion that blasted the suburban Washington Conservative synagogue might have taken a heavy toll of lives if a dance scheduled in the social activities room had not been cancelled at the last minute because of flu. Rabbi Robert Chernoff of Shaare Tikvah, said the explosion, which caused an estimated $150,000 damage to the 15-month-old building, occurred at a time when the social room would have been occupied by teenagers. “Had they been in the social activities room, it would have been a slaughter,” Rabbi Chernoff said.
Local police summoned the Federal Bureau of Investigation and experts from the U.S. Army bomb squad at Fort McNair, Va., to determine the nature of the explosive that knocked a hole in a pressed concrete floor, blew out three heavy metal doors and send debris flying across the social room. Police said, “A high explosive charge of undetermined type was placed on the floor of a short passageway between the social room and the kitchen.” They reported finding no signs of forcible entry into the locked building and no notes. Members of the 175-family congregation said that a group of teenage boys entered the kitchen through a skylight last fall and raided a supply of sacramental wine. They speculated that the same skylight may have been used to plant the explosives. The major damage was confined to the rear of the synagogue and Rabbi Chernoff said the sanctuary would be ready for use by next weekend. He reported receiving “many calls” from Christian churches in the area offering the use of their facilities.