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Moscow mayor participates in bombed shul’s rededication

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MOSCOW, July 7 (JTA) — Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov joined hundreds of the city’s Jews this week at the rededication of a synagogue that was bombed in May. The Marina Roscha Synagogue has been renovated with funds provided by the city of Moscow, local businessmen, foreign communities and hundreds of ordinary Muscovites who were “eager to help with their $2 or $3,” according to Berel Lazar, the Lubavitch synagogue’s rabbi. The highlight of Monday night’s ceremony was delivering a handwritten Torah scroll dedicated to the rebuilt synagogue. Hundreds of local Jews joined a singing and dancing procession that accompanied the scroll from a nearby club, where the scroll was completed, to the synagogue. The Marina Roscha bombing occurred May 13, just minutes after some 70 children and their teachers had left the three-story synagogue building after celebrating the Jewish holiday of Lag B’Omer. Two workers at a nearby construction site of a Jewish community center were lightly injured by the blast. The bomb, equivalent to more than a pound of TNT, partially destroyed two floors of the building, causing some $100,000 worth of damage. Two previous attacks on the synagogue occurred in 1993 and 1996. No one has been arrested in connection with any of the attacks. In the latest incident, Jewish graves were damaged and anti-Semitic graffiti appeared at a cemetery run by the Marina Roscha Synagogue in Malakhovka, a small town near Moscow that had a sizable Jewish population between the 1920s and the 1970s. The cemetery, the oldest functioning Jewish cemetery in the Moscow area, has been vandalized many times — the previous time in September, when vandals damaged 18 tombstones. Lazar called such acts of vandalism at the cemetery “typical.” “These are youngsters who just have fun breaking Jewish graves,” he said, adding that such acts can not be compared with the attacks on the synagogue. The Federal Security Service, the successor to the KGB, has not made any progress in its investigation of the May 13 synagogue bombing, according to Lazar, who visited the agency this week. But some of the theories advanced appear to betray the investigators’ own prejudices. A longtime Jewish activist was called to the agency’s headquarters, where he was told that investigators were not ruling out the possibility of Jewish involvement in the bombing. Lev Gorodetzky, a veteran local Hebrew instructor and a founder of the Betar Zionist youth movement in the Russian capital, was told by investigators that Betar could have committed the crime because it was an “extremist organization.” Lazar said such accusations were absolutely groundless — a point underscored by the fact that Betar ceased to exist in Russia several years ago.

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