Less than a month after celebrating the dedication of a new Torah scroll, the small, but historic Jewish community of Kremenchug, Ukraine, was forced to again deal with anti-Semitism after a Molotov cocktail ignited a fire and damaged its synagogue’s exterior.

The attack, which took place in the middle of the night on New Year’s Eve, followed a similar attempted firebombing two months ago. In that instance, the Molotov cocktail failed to ignite.

Chief Rabbi Shlomo Salomon, a Chabad-Lubavitch emissary, said that it was a miracle that the damage in this week’s incident was relatively light.

“If it is had gone through a window, it could have burned down the whole building,” he stated.

Since coming to Kremenchug with his wife Dina Salamon in 1998, the Salomons have confronted other incidents, including when a rock was thrown at the building and smashed a window. This was the first, he said, that spawned a fire.

The rabbi added that a guard was at the synagogue Saturday night when the attack occurred. Local police are conducting an investigation.

Damage from a fire set New Year’s Eve was confined to the exterior of the Kremenchug synagogue.
Damage from a fire set New Year’s Eve was confined to the exterior of the Kremenchug synagogue.

“The community members are taking it really hard,” said Salomon.

The rabbi is now working on raising funds to enhance the synagogue’s security system.

Back on Dec. 5, the community dedicated a Torah scroll in celebration of the anniversary of the birth and passing of the Second Chabad Rebbe, Rabbi Dov Ber Shneuri, on the ninth day of the Hebrew month of Kislev. Rabbi Dov Ber lived in Kremenchug for two years, making the city a center for Chabad Chasidism during that time.

The city enjoyed a large Jewish population up until World War II, when invading Nazi forces practically wiped out the city’s Jews.