Menu JTA Search

Two Synagogues Bombed; Extensive Damage to Both Buildings; No Motives Known

Two synagogues here were ravaged by bombs early this morning, injuring two persons slightly and causing extensive damage to both buildings. The blasts, which were spaced ten minutes apart, occurred shortly after midnight at Temple Beth Sholom and The Light of Israel Sephardic Center. This is the second time in two weeks that Rochester has been the target of what police termed “maniacal bombers.” The first wave of bombings occurred on October 12, when dynamite bombs exploded in the Federal Building, Monroe County Building, two Negro churches and in the home of a union official. Police Commissioner John Mastrella stated that the bombings appeared to be a “coordinated attack.” District Attorney B. Lazarus said that “circumstances would indicate that there is a definite link between the two waves of bombings.” No motives or suspects for any of the bombings has been found. Police, however, reported that a red car was seen speeding away from one of the two synagogues immediately after the explosions. Rabbi Solomon Cohen, spiritual leader of the Sephardic Center, estimated the damage inflicted upon his synagogue as $40-50,000. Damage to the Temple Beth Sholom Center was estimated at $30,000. Although chemical tests to determine what kind of explosives were used had not been completed earlier today, a preliminary police investigation indicated that it was dynamite.

Twenty minutes before the explosion at Temple Beth Sholom, Mr. Irving Goldstein, a synagogue elder, said he had locked the doors for the night and had not seen or heard anything unusual. Shortly after midnight, caretaker Wallace Gilbert and his wife, who live in an apartment in another section of the synagogue building, heard a loud explosion which they thought came from the boiler. Alarmed neighbors, however, who had been awakened by the blast, began assembling in the street and shouting that a bomb had gone off. Mrs. Gilbert fainted from shock and was taken to a local hospital for treatment where she was later released. Another unidentified woman sustained minor injuries and was also treated at a local hospital. At Temple Beth Sholom, the blast blew a big hole in the wall, jarred loose cylinder blocks, shattered several windows and reduced the rabbi’s office, a social hall and several classrooms to a shambles. Eight large windows were knocked out in the Sephardic Center, with rubble and splinters of glass scattered wildly on the floors of all the rooms in the building. “I can’t understand why this would happen,” remarked Rabbi Cohen, who has been with the Center for twenty years. “Why us? We are a small town congregation with mostly middle-class and working people.”

NEXT STORY