Little damage after fire at Temple Sholom

December 30, 2008 4:33:09 AM PST
Chicago police hope a surveillance video will help them catch the person behind an alleged hate crime at a North Side synagogue. Early Monday morning, someone threw a Molotov cocktail at Temple Sholom, 3480 North Lake Shore Drive. There was a small fire, but no damage inside the synagogue.

A large burn mark remains on the north wall of Temple Sholom, where, according to police, someone threw a Molotov cocktail at 2 a.m. Monday. It landed right below the kindergarten class window in a fenced in playground area. While it caused a small fire, it was put out quickly and did not spread inside the synagogue. Temple Sholom's president is curious about a motive.

"There is nothing we are aware of here. We haven't had any threats, any problems or dissident people we are concerned about," said Roger Rudich, Temple Sholom, president

After the attack, police say a witness heard the offender yell out a derogatory remark. The man, who is believed to be in his 20's, fled in a black, two-door car. Some people are questioning the timing of the attack given the recent spiraling violence between Israel and Hamas.

"Anything that happens elsewhere in the world has nothing to do with this peaceful community of prayer and house of god," said Orli Gil, Consul General of Israel to the Midwest.

While police have not determined a motive, they are treating the incident as a hate crime. The Council on American Islamic Relations, known as CAIR, has reached out to Temple Sholom to offer support.

"We had a nice long talk about how we need to band together to condemn these acts, these hate crimes and make sure they don't happen again and threat affect our community," said Amina Sharif, CAIR Chicago.

The Israeli consul general is hoping the attack on one of Chicago's oldest synagogues is an isolated incident.

"Israel, just like the U.S., is a democratic country. There are other ways of demonstrating and showering discontent. Other democratic ways of doing it," said Gil.


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