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Bomb Explodes at Moscow Synagogue

May 13, 1998

MOSCOW (AP) _ A bomb exploded at an Orthodox synagogue in Moscow on Wednesday, shattering windows and damaging a wall, just minutes after 70 children and their teachers ended a holiday celebration.

The blast injured several construction workers at an adjoining construction site, where a new Jewish community center is being built, said Rabbi Berel Lazar. None of the congregants was hurt.

``It was a miracle″ more people weren’t hurt, Lazar said. ``People are outside bleeding.″

The Interfax news agency reported three people were injured, and one was taken to a hospital.

The bomb had been placed against the facade of the Marinya Roshcha synagogue, a newly rebuilt center run by the ultra-Orthodox Lubavitch Jews.

The synagogue was bombed in August 1996, Lazar said, and a fire, which police ruled an arson, destroyed the building in 1993. Both cases are unsolved.

``We’re getting tired of this,″ Lazar said. ``The government has got to put its foot down and do something about this. They can’t expect Jews to live here like this.″

The Federal Security Service opened an investigation, Interfax said.

Russia has a long tradition of anti-Semitism, and many Jews still feel threatened today. Earlier Wednesday, Jewish leaders in the Siberian city of Irkutsk reported that a Jewish cemetery had been vandalized for the third time in recent months, damaging or destroying 149 headstones.

Before Wednesday’s blast, the children and their teachers had been celebrating the holiday of Lag B’Omer, a celebration of the unity of the Jewish people.

Lazar said the synagogue had received a bomb threat last week, but no device was found.

There are about 500,000 practicing Jews in Russia, according to government figures, though Jewish leaders believe the true number is about three times higher.

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