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!
  • "Dear Diaspora Jews, I’m sorry to break it to you, but you can’t have it both ways. You can’t insist that every Jew is intrinsically part of the Israeli state and that Jews are also intrinsically separate from, and therefore not responsible for, the actions of the Israeli state." Do you agree?
  • Are Michelangelo's paintings anti-Semitic? Meet the Jews of the Sistine Chapel: http://jd.fo/i4UDl
  • What does the Israel-Hamas war look like through Haredi eyes?
  • Was Israel really shocked to find there are networks of tunnels under Gaza?
  • “Going to Berlin, I had a sense of something waiting there for me. I was searching for something and felt I could unlock it by walking the streets where my grandfather walked and where my father grew up.”
  • How can 3 contradictory theories of Yiddish co-exist? Share this with Yiddish lovers!
  • "We must answer truthfully: Has a drop of all this bloodshed really helped bring us to a better place?”
  • "There are two roads. We have repeatedly taken the one more traveled, and that has made all the difference." Dahlia Scheindlin looks at the roots of Israel's conflict with Gaza.
  • Shalom, Cooperstown! Cooperstown Jewish mayor Jeff Katz and Jeff Idelson, director of the National Baseball Hall of Fame, work together to oversee induction weekend.
  • A boost for morale, if not morals.
  • Mixed marriages in Israel are tough in times of peace. So, how do you maintain a family bubble in the midst of war? http://jd.fo/f4VeG
  • Despite the escalating violence in Israel, more and more Jews are leaving their homes in Alaska to make aliyah: http://jd.fo/g4SIa
  • The Workmen's Circle is hosting New York’s first Jewish street fair on Sunday. Bring on the nouveau deli!
  • Novelist Sayed Kashua finds it hard to write about the heartbreak of Gaza from the plush confines of Debra Winger's Manhattan pad. Tough to argue with that, whichever side of the conflict you are on.
  • "I’ve never bought illegal drugs, but I imagine a small-time drug deal to feel a bit like buying hummus underground in Brooklyn."
  • 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.