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Rabbi takes comfort in community support following synagogue attacks

By Amanda Ferguson

The rabbi at Northern Ireland's only synagogue says the Jewish community has been left shocked and saddened by two hate crime attacks at the weekend.

But last night, Rabbi David Singer explained the 90-strong congregation in north Belfast had been lifted by support from other faith groups following the smashing of windows at the Somerton Road building twice in the space of 24 hours.

"We have had an amazing response," the Jewish spiritual leader said.

"Presbyterians, Methodists and Roman Catholics have been in touch."

On Friday night a brick was thrown through a window at the synagogue. The repaired window was then smashed on Saturday.

A PSNI spokesman said the two attacks were being treated as religious hate crimes.

Rabbi Singer praised officers for their professionalism.

"The police are doing an amazing job," he said.

On suggestions the attacks on the synagogue were a reaction to the bloodshed in Gaza at the moment, Rabbi Singer said: "We can't say for certain but it is a coincidence that needs investigating."

The Jewish community is among Northern Ireland's oldest ethnic and religious minorities.

Its numbers have declined in recent years to around 350 but the Jewish community continues to play a significant role in religious and cultural life.

The attacks on the synagogue in north Belfast have been condemned by politicians from across Northern Ireland and yesterday, Secretary of State Theresa Villiers branded the vandalism as "shameful".

She also urged anyone with information to contact the police. "The shameful attacks on the synagogue in north Belfast are wholly without justification," Ms Villiers said.

"There is no place for anti-Semitism or racial or sectarian intolerance of any kind in a civilised society. I urge anyone with information on this crime to contact the PSNI."

Belfast Telegraph


From Belfast Telegraph