Arson attack on German synagogue raises alert


BERLIN (JTA) — Jewish institutions in the German state of Rheinland-Pfalz are receiving increased protection following an arson attack on the synagogue in Worms.

Fires reportedly were set Sunday night at eight spots around the synagogue, which is one of the oldest in Germany, dating back to the year 1034. The Fire Department quickly extinguished the flames.

There was some damage; no one was injured.

Police reported finding eight copies of a letter at the scene that read, "Until you give the Palestinians peace, we will not give you peace."

According to a report on the Web site of Dom Radio, police could not confirm whether the letters had anything to do with the actual attack. The Associated Press reported that the letters were written in "bad German," suggesting that the perpetrator or perpetrators were of foreign background.

Political and religious leaders reacted with shock to news of the attack. State Prime Minister Kurt Beck of the Social Democratic Party told reporters that "an attack against a Jewish house of worship is crossing the line" and he vowed to use "all legal means to pursue" those responsible.

According to Der Spiegel Online, the incident comes as right-wing extremist activity has increased in the area.

Worms is famous as one of the cities where the Jewish scholar Rashi (Rabbi Salomon ben Isaak of Troye) studied in the 11th century. The so-called Rashi Chapel is part of the synagogue, which was destroyed by the Nazis and rebuilt after World War II.

Worms was the site of vicious anti-Jewish pogroms during the Crusades in the 14th century.

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