2 arrested on suspicion of setting fire to shul in Greece

Posted: 4/20/2011 3:06:00 PM
Author: J. Post Staff & Reuters
Source: This article originally appeared in the Jerusalem Post on April 20, 2011/

2 arrested on suspicion of setting fire to shul in Greece
by J. Post Staff and Reuters

Police reinforce security on island of Corfu for Israelis arriving on cruise ships; Jewish community mourns loss of Torah scrolls

Two suspects were arrested Wednesday in connection with setting fire to a synagogue on the Greek island of Corfu a day earlier, Greek Police said.

Police on the island reinforced security around Israeli's arriving in the country on cruise ships as a result of a travel advisory that was issued.

Arsonists set fire to a synagogue on the island early on Tuesday, damaging prayer books but causing no injuries, in the third such attack in Greece in less than two years, police said.

Members of the Jewish community of Corfu gathered and wept at the local synagogue on Wednesday around a pile of ashen prayer books set on fire during the attack.

“It’s very difficult for us,” said Rabbi Shlomo Naftali, an Israeli rabbi who was flown over to Greece to conduct Passover ceremonies. “We stood around the books and cried. Now we’ll have to bury them.”

The arson attack, staged just as the Passover festival was starting, alarmed the country's dwindling Jewish community.

"The door was violated and two empty gasoline canisters were found in the synagogue," said a police officer, who declined to be named. "At least 30 books were damaged in the blaze."

About 150 Jews live on Corfu. The latest attack has alarmed Greece's 8,000-strong community, which was decimated after the Nazis deported Jews to concentration camps in eastern Europe during World War II.

"We are very worried," Moses Constantinis, head of the Central Board of Jewish Communities in Greece, told Reuters. "We hope the police act quickly and the culprits are found."

In February last year, police arrested three men suspected of setting fire twice to a medieval synagogue on the island of Crete. The roof of the building and thousands of books and computers were damaged.