Two synagogue fires in six months in Miami?Federal, state and local police on Wednesday are investigating a fire that damaged a Miami Beach Jewish community center during Passover. The Chabad Shul, located at 2401 Pinetree Dr., was vandalized early Tuesday and its Torah stolen.
FBI Dir. Robert Mueller said to Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida, a member of the house judiciary committee, in Washington DC., that his agency will investigate the fires that damaged Miami Beach synagogues in the past six months as hate crimes.
The FBI has jurisdiction over hate crimes motivated by intolerance of a person's race, religion, or national origin.
CBS4 Tiffani Helberg was told by congregation members that the Torah, a religious scroll of Jewish laws and customs, a centerpiece of its religion, was taken. Pieces of the Torah were found outside. Its value is more than $40,000.
"We could see all the prayer books there, all burnt up you can find them, but not one inch of the Torah remnants," said Rabbi Zev Katz. "And we found the pole to the Torah outside. Something strange happened; this is definitely criminal activity."
The rabbi said he believed the fire was intentionally set, but Miami Beach fire officials have not confirmed it. The pole that holds the Torah found outside was brought to the attention of investigators as a clue as to what might of happened.
Wasserman Schultz, who is Jewish, said the fact that the fire occurred during Passover and that there have been two synagogue fires in the past six months makes the fire suspicious. Although the Chabad House is outside her congressional district, many of its congregates live within her district.
So, which is more prevalent - Islamophobia or anti-semitism?