Rock hurled inside Polish synagogue during Yom Kippur prayers

Shattered glass at the New Synagogue of Gdansk, Poland, Sept. 19, 2018. (Courtesy of the World Jewish Congress)

Shattered glass at the New Synagogue of Gdansk, Poland, Sept. 19, 2018. (Courtesy of the World Jewish Congress)

(JTA) – A rock was hurled into a synagogue in Gdansk in northern Poland, shattering the glass of one window while worshipers, including children, were inside.

The assault on Gdansk’s New Synagogue occurred on Wednesday, during Yom Kippur, one of Judaism’s holiest days, the Jewish Religious Community in Gdansk wrote on its Facebook page.

The rock fell “in the atrium where women waiting for Neilah – the final prayer of Yom Kippur,” the statement read. “There were children around. The rock flew several centimetres from where women were standing.” No one was hurt in the incident.

The perpetrator has been identified on camera and the police are said to be dealing with the attack as a matter of the highest urgency, the World Jewish Congress (WJC) wrote in a statement, in which it strongly condemned the attack.

In his statement, Gdansk Mayor Adamowicz referenced his city’s recent past as the birthplace of the anti-Communist trade union and said, “I categorically reject the behaviour of the perpetrators and count on them being rapidly caught. I apologize to the Jewish community of Gdansk. In the city of Freedom and Solidarity, we respect all religions and do not accept acts of hooliganism.”

The attack on Gdansk’s New Synagogue is “shocking and dismaying in itself, made all the more distressing by the fact that it took place on Yom Kippur, evoking the terrible tragedies that occurred in German-occupied Poland during the years of the Holocaust,” said WJC President Ronald S. Lauder said.

The community in its statement said the incident recalled the actions of ultra-nationalists in the 1930s, who “would often target synagogues on Yom Kippur,” the text read. But such attacks are very rare in Poland today, where documented anti-Semitic incidents are mostly verbal.

In Poland, which is home to some 20,000 Jews, Deputy National Prosecutor Agata Gałuszka-Górska in May said that the number of anti-Semitic incidents had dropped by 30 per cent, to 112 last year from 160 in 2016. Anti-Semitic hate crimes accounted for about six per cent of all hate crimes recorded, she said.

In November, 60,000 people attended a nationalist march in Poland that featured anti-Semitic and anti-Muslim rhetoric. Some local Jews say the government is tolerating ultra-nationalism that elevates the risk of anti-Semitic violence. But other leaders of Jewish organizations in Poland dismiss this claim.

Opposition by Israel and Jewish groups to Poland’s passing in January of a law that criminalizes blaming the Polish nation for Nazi crimes has fueled fresh reports of rising anti-Semitism in Poland.

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