78 reasons why CST exists
1 November 2018
On Shabbat, the world recoiled in horror at the murder of 11 Jews during a brit milah ceremony at the Tree of Life Or L’Simcha synagogue in Squirrel Hill, Pittsburgh. The suspect, Robert Bowers, attacked the synagogue with three handguns and an assault rifle and allegedly shouted: “all Jews must die.” Upon arrest, he told law enforcement officers that Jews “are committing genocide to my people. I just want to kill Jews.” Bowers’ social media was rife with neo-Nazi inspired Jew-hate.
CST staff and volunteers work tirelessly to protect Jews in the United Kingdom during Shabbat services week in and week out. CST is acutely aware that this horrific attack in Pittsburgh is the latest in a long line of devastating attacks targeting Jewish communities worldwide during the 20th and 21st Centuries.
Since the 1950s, there have been at least 78 bombings, shootings, firebombings or similar attacks on Jews around the world, outside of Israel, that specifically targeted synagogues: a Jewish place of worship that should serve as a sanctuary, a place of peace, for Jews whether during prayer and reflection or during celebrations. The following is a lengthy list that is indicative, though not exhaustive, of the types of attacks against synagogues:
- Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA, 2018: Eleven people were killed during a brit milah on Shabbat morning when a far-right gunman entered the synagogue with several firearms.
- Exeter, England, 2018: A man was charged with arson after an attempt was made to set fire to Exeter Synagogue on a Saturday night. The alleged perpetrator attempted to ignite an inflammable liquid he poured into a window of the synagogue.
- Gothenburg, Sweden, 2017: Molotov cocktails were thrown at a synagogue after Shabbat during an event. No one was injured.
- Copenhagen, Denmark, 2015: Omar El-Hussein carried out an ISIS-inspired firearms attack outside the Great Synagogue during a bat mitzvah celebration. The community security volunteer, Dan Uzan Z”L was killed, and two armed officers were injured.
- Wuppertal, Germany, 2014: Three Palestinians attacked a synagogue with three firebombs in the Wuppertal region of Germany.
- New Jersey, USA, 2012: The Congregation K’Hal Adath Yeshurun and the Congregation Beth El in Rutherford were firebombed, leaving damage to the synagogue. Anthony Graziano and Aakash Dalal were both convicted. The pair also attacked a rabbi’s home.
- Cairo, Egypt, 2010: Gamal Hussein threw a suitcase containing an incendiary device at the Shaar Hashamayim synagogue in Cairo. The device caught fire but did not cause any casualties or damage to the building. Hussein was jailed for five years.
- Malmo, Sweden, 2010: A small device exploded outside a local synagogue in Malmo, leaving the building damaged.
- London, United Kingdom, 2009: A synagogue in north-west London was set alight in an arson attack. The arsonists tried to break a window to pour petrol into the building but failed. Instead, they set light to the front door of the premises, causing superficial damage.
- Mumbai, India, 2008: Nariman House, the Chabad House in Mumbai, was attacked by gunmen belonging to Lashkar-e-Taiba terrorist group. Those inside were held hostage, leaving six people dead, including Rabbi Gavriel Holtzberg Z”L and his pregnant wife, Rebbetzen Rivka Holtzberg Z”L.
- Oslo, Norway, 2006: Gunshots were fired at a synagogue in Oslo, leaving the building damaged.
- Oklahoma, USA, 2004: The Temple B’nai Israel was attacked in a firebombing and attempted arson by former neo-Nazi Aryan Nations follower Sean Gillespie. He was later convicted and sentenced to 39 years in prison.
- Modena, Italy, 2003: A suicide bomber self-detonated outside the Modena synagogue. The perpetrator, Muhammad al-Khatib Shafiq, had a history of mental health problems.
- Istanbul, Turkey, 2003: 23 people were killed, including community security volunteer Yoel Kohen Ülçer Z”L, a and 300 injured in consecutive al-Qaeda car-bomb attacks on the Neve Shalom and Beth Israel Synagogues during Shabbat morning services.
- Washington, D.C., USA, 2002: A synagogue in the capital was subjected to gunfire, leaving damage to the outside walls. Two serial killers, John Lee Muhammed and Lee Boyd Malvo, were convicted for the attack.
- Charleroi, Belgium 2002: The synagogue in Charleroi was subjected to machine gun fire, causing damage but no casualties.
- Djerba, Tunisia, 2002: 21 people were killed when an al-Qaeda truck bomb targeted the historic Ghriba Synagogue on Djerba Island.
- France, 30-31 March, 2002: Firebombing, arson and other violent attacks on synagogues reached epidemic proportions in 2002, seeing a wave of attacks against Jewish houses of worship and other Jewish targets over a weekend. On 30 March, hooded assailants crashed two cars through the gate of a synagogue in Lyon, and the next day a synagogue in Marseille was gutted in an arson attack.
- Canberra, Australia, 2001: A synagogue was attacked by five or six masked men who threw Molotov cocktails, causing damage to the exterior and surrounding lawn.
- Dusseldorf, Germany, 2000: A synagogue in Dusseldorf had three firebombs thrown at it, leaving the building damaged.
- Chicago, Illinois, USA, 1999: On a Friday night, a white supremacist, Benjamin Nataniel Smith, went on a shooting spree, during which he shot nine Orthodox Jews as they walked home from Friday night services. He also attacked several other members of racial and ethnic minorities over the same weekend.
- Sacramento, California, USA, 1999: Followers of the neo-Nazi Aryan Nations attacked three synagogues on a Friday night. At two of the synagogues, leaflets were left claiming Jews were responsible for the war in Kosovo that was occurring at the time. In 2001, brothers Benjamin Matthew Williams and Jared Tyler Williams pleaded guilty to the attacks.
- Moscow, Russia, 1999: A bomb exploded 50 metres away from the Choral Synagogue in Moscow. A second bomb went off nearly an hour later near the Marina Roscha Synagogue in northern Moscow.
- Yaroslavl, Russia, 1996: The Jewish Cultural Center, which housed a synagogue, was subjected to a bomb attack, leaving damage to the building.
- Melbourne, Australia, 1995: A synagogue in Melbourne was targeted by arson.
- Lubeck, Germany 1994: A firebomb attack took place against the Lubeck synagogue by neo-Nazis, leaving severe damage.
- Oregon, USA, 1994: The Temple Beth Israel was attacked in a drive-by shooting attack by two neo-Nazi Volksfront skinheads, leaving damage to the building.
- Sydney, Australia, 1993: The Illawarra Synagogue was targeted with a firebomb.
- Istanbul, Turkey, 1992: Hand grenades were thrown at the Neve Shalom Synagogue in Istanbul, killing one man near the entrance to the synagogue. Members of Turkish Hizbollah were convicted.
- Manila, Philippines, 1991: A bomb was thrown at a synagogue in the capital.
- Sydney, Australia, 1991: Four synagogues were firebombed in separate incidents including the Sephardi synagogue, the North Shore synagogue, the Bankstown synagogue and the Illawarra synagogue.
- Port Alegre, Brazil, 1991: A bomb was thrown at a synagogue in Porte Alegre leaving slight damage.
- Melbourne, Australia, 1990: Two synagogues in the city were firebombed in separate incidents and another synagogue was set on fire.
- San Francisco, 1990: The Beth Israel synagogue in San Francisco was subjected to gunfire.
- Lima, Peru, 1990: The Lima synagogue was left with damage after a bomb exploded. The bomb was set off by Tupac Amaru.
- California, USA, 1990: The San Leandro and Oakland synagogues were attacked with petrol bombs.
- Johannesburg, South Africa, 1990: Simultaneous attacks took place on the South Eastern Hebrew Jewish Center synagogue in Johannesburg and at the home of a prominent Jew, with antisemitic slogans painted on the synagogue,
- Tennessee, USA, 1990: The West End Conservative Synagogue in Nashville had shots fired at it by member of the Ku Klux Klan.
- Santiago, Chile, 1990: The Santiago Ashkenazi synagogue was subjected to an explosion that caused damage. It was perpetrated by the Manuel Rodriguez Patriotic Front.
- Munster, Germany, 1988: The Munster synagogue had incendiary bombs thrown at the building.
- Medellin, Colombia, 1988: The El Poblado synagogue was subjected to a bomb attack by the National Liberation Army Ernesto Che Guevara Nucleus.
- Bogota, Colombia, 1988: The Ashkenazi synagogue in the city was left with extensive damage after the M-19 Group attacked the building.
- Los Angeles, USA, 1988: The Beit Hatikva synagogue was left with some damage after Molotov cocktails were thrown at the building.
- Panama City, Panama, 1988: A Panama City synagogue was left with gunfire damage after shots were fired at the building.
- Copenhagen, Denmark, 1985: Several bombs were set off in Copenhagen, one targeting the Copenhagen Synagogue and an adjacent Jewish care home. Two Palestinians were sentenced to life imprisonment.
- New York, USA, 1994: A synagogue in the suburb of Brooklyn was virtually destroyed after an explosion.
- Idaho, USA, 1984: The Ahavath synagogue in Idaho was left partially destroyed after Bruse Carroll Pierce and Richard Kemp bombed the building.
- Barranquilla, Colombia, 1983: A synagogue in the city was bombed leaving damage to the building.
- Guatemala City, Guatemala, 1983: A synagogue in the city was bombed leaving damage to the building.
- Lima, Peru, 1982: The main synagogue in Lima was bombed leaving damage to the building.
- Brussels, Belgium, 1982: The Rue de la Regence synagogue was attacked during Rosh Hashana by the Black Lebanon organisation.
- Buenos Aires, Argentina, 1982: A synagogue in Buenos Aires was attacked with a bomb.
- Rome, Italy, 1982: During Shabbat services, hand grenades were thrown at the Great Synagogue of Rome and submachines guns were fired at worshippers, leaving a 2-year-old boy dead and 34 people wounded. The attack was perpetrated by the Fatah Revolutionary Council (Abu Nidal Organisation). The Nomentana synagogue in Rome was also attacked in a separate incident during the same year.
- Guebwiller, France, 1982: A synagogue in Guebwiller was left damaged after a gunfire attack.
- Vienna, Austria, 1981: Two people were killed and 30 people wounded during an attack on the Stadttempel of Vienna during a Bat Mitzvah. Two Palestinians were convicted.
- New York, USA, 1981: An explosive charge left considerable damage to a synagogue in New York.
- Antwerp, Belgium, 1981: Two women were killed and 95 people were left injured after a bomb concealed in a van exploded outside a synagogue.
- Buenos Aires, Argentina, 1980: The Jerusalem Synagogue was left damage after a bomb exploded.
- Paris, France, 1980: On 3 April, the rue Copernic synagogue was bombed leaving four people dead and 46 injured. The attack took place on Shabbat and was described as the “first fatal attack on the French Jewish community since the Nazi occupation in World War II.” One man, Hassan Diab, was arrested and extradited from Canada to France in 2014 but was later released without charge.
- Cipoletti, Argentina, 1979: A synagogue in Cipoletti was left with extensive damage after a bombing attack.
- Buenos Aires, Argentina, 1979: Two synagogues in Buenos Aires were left with extensive damage after bombing attacks.
- Barcelona, Spain, 1979: Shots were fired outside a synagogue in Barcelona causing minor damage.
- Vienna, Austria, 1979: A Jewish building housing a synagogue and Jewish families was bombed by the Eagles of the Palestinian Revolution.
- Zurich, Switzerland, 1979: The main Zurich synagogue was bombed leaving extensive damage, with antisemitic inscriptions daubed on nearby walls.
- Missouri, USA, 1977: Several worshippers were shot at outside the Brith Sholom Kneseth Israel congregation synagogue during a bar mitzvah. One person and killed and another injured. The attacker was white supremacist and serial killer Joseph Paul Franklin.
- Tennessee, USA, 1977: The Chattanooga Beth Sholom synagogue was totally destroyed in a bombing attack by white supremacist and serial killer Joseph Paul Franklin. The congregants had left before the detonation occurred. The device consisted of a mixture of 50 pounds of water gel explosives and five sticks of dynamite hidden inside the synagogue.
- Buenos Aires, Argentina, 1976: The Shalom School and nearby synagogue were attacked in a bombing which left damage to the buildings.
- Paris, France, 1976: The Rashi Synagogue in Paris was bombed by Groupe Action Jeunesse, leaving damage to the building.
- Buenos Aires, Argentina, 1975: A bomb exploded outside the Yeshurun Synagogue in the capital, leaving the building damaged.
- New Jersey, USA, 1970: West Orange Jewish Centre, which houses a synagogue, was bombed, leaving extensive damage to the building. In the same year, two firebombs were thrown through the window of Temple B'nai Israel leaving minor damage.
- New York, USA, 1970: Two firebombs were thrown at Long Island Congregation Derech Emunoh. In a separate incident, two incendiary devices were thrown at the Mosholu Jewish centre in the Bronx suburb of New York.
- Seattle, USA, 1970: An explosion took place inside a Seattle synagogue, leaving damage to the doors.
- Istanbul, Turkey, 1969: The Neve Shalom synagogue in Istanbul was bombed, leaving damage to the exterior of the building.
- New York, USA, 1969: The Kehilath Yakov synagogue was firebombed, leading to the arrest of three teenagers. In a separate attack, the Satmar Yetev Lev D’Satmar Chasidic synagogue in New York was firebombed during a religious celebration.
- New Jersey, USA, 1969: The B’nai Abraham synagogue was firebombed by the Black Panther Movement.
- Maryland, USA, 1969: The Shaare Tikvah synagogue was firebombed, leaving the building with extensive damage.
- United Kingdom, mid-1960s: Supporters of the National Socialist Movement (NSM) were thought to be behind a wave of 34 arson attacks, more than a dozen of which were synagogues in London during the mid-1960s.
- Atlanta, Georgia, USA, 1958: The Hebrew Benevolent Congregation Temple was bombed in the early hours of the morning, damaging the building significantly. Several suspects linked to the Ku Klux Klan were arrested, with one suspect being found guilty and later acquitted and no one was convicted of the bombing.
This is why CST exists. This is why CST volunteers protect their Jewish community.
You can also play your part. Help us to protect our Jewish community by joining the thousands of men and women who already serve our community across the United Kingdom.
[Image: The 2003 Istanbul attack against the Neve Shalom and Beth Israel Synagogues]