Reflecting on the robbery of his synagogue last week, Rabbi Shmuel (“Shmuli”) Schlanger offered some advice to potential future thieves targeting Jewish houses of worship, saying: “If you’re gonna break into a synagogue, take a Bible with you.”
Schlanger, director of Chabad of Bakersfield, Calif. (about 100 miles north of Los Angeles), said to would-be violators of the Ten Commandments to “take two if you have a buddy that you think needs one, too. And there it will teach you to be guided in life. That G-d will provide without having to steal.”
On Aug. 30—two weeks before the start of the Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year 5784—electronics, jewelry and donation boxes were taken; glass was broken and rooms disheveled. The image of a man was caught on camera; Bakersfield police are investigating the incident.
The rabbi, however, stated his belief that “this was not a targeted hate crime on the Jewish community. This is a problem in the community with rampant amounts of theft.”
He added that he plans to increase the security of the Chabad House by installing more cameras, putting in stronger locks and adding a larger fence. The 12 existing cameras and nine-foot fence apparently proved insufficient.