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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Bomb Blast Damages Moscow Synagogue

A bomb blast ripped through the wall of one of Moscow's main synagogues late Thursday night, knocking over the ark where the sacred Torah scrolls are kept and causing an estimated $15,000 worth of damage.

The blast shattered all the windows on the front of the two-story brick building, scattering glass over the unadorned interior. It dislodged the Torah scrolls from their resting place but did not damage them.

Berel Lazar, the synagogue's rabbi and member of the U.S.-based Lubavitch Jewish organization, said he believes the blast was an anti-Semitic attack.

"Someone is trying to scare us," said Lazar, born in Milan, Italy, and rabbi of Marina Roscha since 1992. "But instead we will grow stronger and quicker. As the Bible says, the more Egypt oppressed the Jews, the stronger Judaism grew."

The Federal Security Service told Itar-Tass the device contained about 300 grams of high explosive, adding that the attack did not appear to be linked to bombs placed on Moscow trains and buses over the last two months.

The bomb exploded shortly before the night watchman was due to make his hourly inspection tour of the synagogue, which replaced an earlier building burned down in an arson attack in December 1993.

"I don't know if it was the same people [that set fire to the synagogue in 1993], but it was the same kind of people," Lazar said. "It was a carefully planned attack. The police are not optimistic about finding the culprits, but they could if they really wanted to."

The synagogue had received no threats or warnings, Lazar said, and there was no anti-Semitic graffiti of the kind which accompanied the 1993 arson.

Lazar said he did not think not from these people," said one, who refused to give his name, indicating Lazar.

"We will see tonight whether the worshippers have been frightened away," Lazar said Friday evening. "Today, many of our regular worshippers called to say that they would come and that they weren't going to be scared. The older members of our community have been through some very hard times; this is small stuff for them."

The Marina Roscha synagogue, founded in 1926, was known during the Soviet era as the spiritual center of Russian Jewry and had a reputation for independence. One of two Lubavitch synagogues in Moscow, it has approximately 100 regular worshippers.