Attempted arson at Lakeview synagogue puts Jewish community on alert

CHICAGO (WLS) -- A Jewish congregation is on alert on Chicago's North Side after an attempted arson at a synagogue Sunday night.

According to police, a man threw three Molotov cocktails at Lakeview synagogue Anshe Sholom B'nai Israel Congregation and then ran off.

The Rabbi for the synagogue said the attempted arson in the 500-Block of West Melrose was caught on camera.

"You can see someone walking behind the building and carrying things, and you can see fire, and you can see him trying to throw the fire at the building," said Anshe Sholom B'nai Israel Congregation Rabbi David Wolkenfeld.

The surveillance footage is now being analyzed by both the FBI and Chicago police, however detectives are not yet releasing the video as the case is being investigated as a possible hate crime.

"A shocking thing to see an act of violence against a building that means so much to so many people," said Rabbi Wolkenfeld.

Around 800 men, women, and children call the synagogue home. Many members are distraught and angry but know that they are lucky the Molotov cocktails did not smash through the windows and land inside of their sanctuary.

"It is terrible when violence comes into holy space and we are seeing more of that these days," Rabbinat Leah Sarna said.

Chicago police have ordered special attention at all Jewish schools, synagogues, and businesses following vandalism at synagogues in the area. The warning includes a string of car break ins at synagogues in the 24th Rogers Park District.

For now, investigators increasing patrols.

"If there is going to be another incident in America, I cannot say that I would be surprised," Ezra Landman-Feigelson said.

The bottles found at the scene are being processed for fingerprints.

If you have info on the incident, you're asked to call Chicago Police Department.
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