Tunisia Synagogue Damaged in Anti-Semitic Attack

Sanctuary of Beith El in Sfax Ransacked

By JTA

Published May 06, 2014.
  • Print
  • Share Share

A synagogue in Tunisia was vandalized in what a human rights activist and some Jews described as an anti-Semitic attack.

The Beith El synagogue in Sfax, located 150 miles south of the capital Tunis, was ransacked on April 30 by unidentified individuals who littered the floor with prayer books and tallitot, or Jewish prayer shawls, according to a May 4 account by Ftouh Souhail, a human rights activist and attorney who monitors the situation of the country’s Jewish community of 1,700 people.

He said that signs indicated that “Islamo-fascists” were behind the vandalism, which he said was anti-Semitic.

Souhail quoted a 76-year-old member of the Jewish community identified as R. Perez as saying: “They tore apart walls, paintings and threw them to the floor … this is vandalism directed against the Jewish heritage of Sfax. I cried like a child at the sight of my place of worship in this state.” The account appeared Sunday on the website Dreuz.info with a video of the synagogue after the attack.

Souhail said that “available information showed the perpetrators were a group of 10 students from the Technical High School of April 9.” He said they broke into the synagogue while wearing hoods that concealed their faces.

According to Souhail, the attack last week was the third time that “pro-Palestinian elements perpetrate these shameful acts against the synagogue of Beith El.” Previous attacks occured in August 2011 and December of 2012. In one of the attacks, the perpetrators stole silver chandeliers that weighed 120 pounds, according to Souhail’s account, which said Sfax’s Jewish community was made up of approximately 20 elderly Jews.

“Tunisia has seen a wave of anti-Semitism since the 2010 revolt,” Souhail wrote in reference to the revolution that in 2011 swept the country’s former ruler, Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali, from power.

The website and Facebgook page of the Tunisian interior ministry, which regularly contain updates about crimes, did not immediately offer any information on the incident.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • "I am a Jewish woman married to a non-Jewish man who was raised Catholic, but now considers himself a “common-law Jew.” We are raising our two young children as Jews. My husband's parents are still semi-practicing Catholics. When we go over to either of their homes, they bow their heads, often hold hands, and say grace before meals. This is an especially awkward time for me, as I'm uncomfortable participating in a non-Jewish religious ritual, but don't want his family to think I'm ungrateful. It's becoming especially vexing to me now that my oldest son is 7. What's the best way to handle this situation?" http://jd.fo/b4ucX What would you do?
  • Maybe he was trying to give her a "schtickle of fluoride"...
  • It's all fun, fun, fun, until her dad takes the T-Bird away for Shabbos.
  • "Like many Jewish people around the world, I observed Shabbat this weekend. I didn’t light candles or recite Hebrew prayers; I didn’t eat challah or matzoh ball soup or brisket. I spent my Shabbat marching for justice for Eric Garner of Staten Island, Michael Brown of Ferguson, and all victims of police brutality."
  • Happy #NationalDogDay! To celebrate, here's a little something from our archives:
  • A Jewish couple was attacked on Monday night in New York City's Upper East Side. According to police, the attackers flew Palestinian flags.
  • "If the only thing viewers knew about the Jews was what they saw on The Simpsons they — and we — would be well served." What's your favorite Simpsons' moment?
  • "One uncle of mine said, 'I came to America after World War II and I hitchhiked.' And Robin said, 'I waited until there was a 747 and a kosher meal.'" Watch Billy Crystal's moving tribute to Robin Williams at last night's #Emmys:
  • "Americans are much more focused on the long term and on the end goal which is ending the violence, and peace. It’s a matter of zooming out rather than debating the day to day.”
  • "I feel great sorrow about the fact that you decided to return the honor and recognition that you so greatly deserve." Rivka Ben-Pazi, who got Dutchman Henk Zanoli recognized as a "Righteous Gentile," has written him an open letter.
  • Is there a right way to criticize Israel?
  • From The Daily Show to Lizzy Caplan, here's your Who's Jew guide to the 2014 #Emmys. Who are you rooting for?
  • “People at archives like Yad Vashem used to consider genealogists old ladies in tennis shoes. But they have been impressed with our work on indexing documents. Now they are lining up to work with us." This year's Jewish Genealogical Societies conference took place in Utah. We got a behind-the-scenes look:
  • What would Maimonides say about Warby Parker's buy-one, give-one charity model?
  • For 22 years, Seeds of Peace has fostered dialogue between Israeli and Palestinian teens in an idyllic camp. But with Israel at war in Gaza, this summer was different. http://jd.fo/p57AB
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.