NEW YORK (Mar. 19)
A Brooklyn rabbi charged today that members of “a cult” that is a “fragment of Hasidim” was responsible for desecrating his synagogue in the Borough Park section Saturday night because he had delivered a sermon earlier in the day criticizing their attacks on Israel. Rabbi Israel Schorr of Congregation Beth-EI told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency that this was not the first instance of desecration and harassment by the group which he identified as belonging to the Satmar Hasidic group.
He attributed the swastikas, Stars of David and Hebrew and Yiddish epithets scrawled on the walls of his synagogue directly to his own expressions of outrage from the pulpit against on anti Israel rally at Madison Square Garden last Thursday night sponsored by the Central Rabbinical Congress of the United States and Canada. The rally protested what the Congress charged was the denial of religious freedom to Orthodox Jews in Israel.
Rabbi Efroim Stein, spokesman for the sponsoring group; said, when asked to comment, that he hadn’t “the slightest idea” who was responsible for the defacement of Schurz’s synagogue and in clouded the idea that it was the ” result of any sermon” Schorr delivered.
He told the JTA that his own congregation, Yetev Lev of Satmar, which is located in Borough Park only a few blocks from Congregation Beth-EI was similarly defaced by unidentified vandals last Thursday night-He said that if Schorr Knew who the perpetrators were he had the obligation to report them to the police.
Schorr told the JTA that only last week police arrested five persons pasting slogans on his synagogue’s walls and bulletin board. He said he believed they were released with summonses. He said that his 470-member congregation; which has just celebrated its 77th anniversary, and himself personally have been targets of harassment for the past year-and-a-half and incidents going back 3-4 years. He said these included telephoned bomb scares, false alarms that brought fire engines to the synagogue and in one case, on undertaker “to fetch my body.”
Schorr said that in his Saturday sermon he defended Israel and its impending peace treaty with Egypt. But he also inveighed against the use of such terms as “Nazis, “Kristallnacht” and “Holocaust” to describe alleged actions by Israeli authorities against Orthodox Jews. Such terms were used in leaflets publicizing last week’s rally at Madison Square Garden and at the rally itself.
Stein, who told the JTA last Friday that his group planned to continue its protests, said the Congress which sponsored the rally last Thursday is not a Satmar group. He. claimed that it represented virtually all Hasidic groups except the-Lubavitcher Movement. The rally was attended by some 5000 people. Earlier some 200 Hasidic rabbis presented a petition containing an estimated 20,000 signatures to the Israeli Consulate General which protested Israel’s “denial” of religious freedom to Orthodox Jews in Israel.