LOS ANGELES, Jan. 2 (JTA) Thirteen months after five skinheads firebombed Temple Emanu-El in Reno, the same synagogue was attacked in the first hour of the New Year.
Police said an arsonist apparently used a flammable liquid to ignite the fire, which engulfed the temple’s front entrance and charred the entryway.
The flames, discovered Monday at 12:45 a.m., were quickly extinguished.
Police officials, who classified the attack as a hate crime, had few clues other than a poor-quality surveillance photo of the arsonist.
One month ago, a federal judge sentenced five self-avowed skinheads for hurling a concrete-filled soda bottle and a Molotov cocktail at a temple window in December 1999.
The youngest defendant received a five-year prison sentence, and the other four between 14 and 15 years.
“We had hoped that the harsh sentences would send a strong message to people, but I guess some people didn’t get the message,” Rabbi Daniel Mehlman of Temple Emanu-El, an 80-year old Conservative congregation, told the Reno Gazette-Journal.
“The damage to the building is limited, but the damage to our hearts and souls is great,” Mehlman said. “Everybody is shocked and scared.”
Mehlman invited the general community to attend the temple’s services on Friday evening.
“I know everybody’s heart in the community is with us,” he said. “This is an attack not only on our place of worship, it is an attack on anybody’s place of worship.”