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Sammy Davis Attends Prayer Service at Arson-struck Synagogue

August 19, 1983
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

Sammy Davis, Jr., the noted screen, stage and TV star, attended a prayer service this morning at the arson-struck Young Israel Synagogue in a show of support for the Jewish community here.

Davis, who was in the area for the Sammy Davis, Jr. Greater Hartford Open Golf Testament, said at the service, which was held in the basement of the synagogue because the prayer hall was destroyed in a fire last week, “I share your grief and your sorrow. When I saw the destruction that the fire did to your synagogue, my Jewish heart wept as all of us are now weeping. I tell you from the bottom of my heart that they can bum our synagogues, they can set fire to our Torah, they can torch our holy books — but they can never destroy our spirit.”

Davis, who converted to Judaism some 30 years ago, added that he was heartened “by the outpouring of sympathy and understanding shown by the Greater Hartford Christian community” after the attacks on Jewish targets. “We must respond to this challenge as one people united in their determination that our spirit is still strong and vibrant,” he said.

Davis said that when he accepted Judaism “I did so because I wanted to be part of that strong and steadfast tradition that withstood and overcame thousand of years of bigotry and persecution. I assure you that this persecution, too, shall pass. We will rebuild this synagogue and we shall glory in the light that it will radiate for all our Jewish brethren and for all people everywhere.”

The fire that hit Young Israel Synagogue last Wednesday destroyed the building’s main halls and many religious articles and prayerbooks. On Monday morning, a suspicious fire also hit Temple Emanuel, a Conservative congregation. The main damage was to the small sanctuary but some Torah scrolls were destroyed in the main sanctuary. Two days ago a firebomb destroyed most of the home of Rabbi Solomon Krupka, the spiritual leader of Young Israel Synagogue.

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