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Spanish, Venezuelan foreign ministers visit synagogue

CARACAS (JTA) — The foreign ministers of Spain and Venezuela visited a Caracas synagogue attacked earlier this year.

“They sent a strong message repudiating anti-Semitism,” said Claudio Epelman, director of the Latin American Jewish Congress, who traveled from Buenos Aires to attend the meeting.

This week’s visit was the second time that Venezuelan Foreign Minister Nicolas Maduro had visited the Tiferet Israel Synagogue since it was attacked in January. The foreign ministers also met with memebrs of Venezuela’s Sephardic Jewish community.

More than a dozen vandals broke into the temple, desecrating holy objects and spraying anti-Semitic messages on the walls before escaping with a database
of the community’s personal information.

The attack occurred during a heightened period of tension following Israel’s incursion into the Gaza Strip, which President Hugo Chavez strongly criticized, eventually severing diplomatic relations with the Jewish state.

“This visit to the synagogue from Chancellor Maduro fortifies the dialogue between the Venezuelan government and the Jewish community,” said Jack Terpins, president of the Latin American Jewish Congress, in a news release.

Thirteen people have been arrested for the break-in.

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