WASHINGTON (July 15, 1999) -- The Catholic Bishops of the United States have contributed $25,000 to help rebuild three Sacramento synagogues severely damaged by firebomb attacks in mid-June.
Acting on behalf of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops (NCCB), Bishop William K. Weigand of Sacramento gave a check to Rabbi Brad L. Bloom of Congregation B'nai Israel, at a presentation ceremony in Sacramento. Rabbi Bloom was representing the Jewish community of that city.
In a letter to Rabbi Bloom, NCCB President Most Reverend Joseph A. Fiorenza said that Bishop Weigand, as well as Cardinal William Keeler of Baltimore, spoke for all the Catholic Bishops at their recent meeting "when they condemned the cowardly and blasphemous attacks" on the three Sacramento area synagogues. "They noted with sadness and outrage as well that Congregation B'nai Israel was firebombed just six years ago and that, this time, it lost its library with its "precious repository of Jewish religious knowledge, culture and history," Bishop Fiorenza wrote.
With the bishops' donation to assist in the rebuilding efforts "comes our profound sense of solidarity with the Jewish people in this time of trial," he continued. "As Bishop Weigand stated and Cardinal Keeler affirmed for the whole Catholic community in the United States: 'An act such as this is not just an attack on the Jewish community. It is an attack on all of us.' When synagogues are burned, all Christians are Jews," Bishop Fiorenza said.
Bishop Fiorenza also wrote to the leaders of the other burned synagogues, Rabbi Dr. Joseph Melamed of Congregation Beth Shalom and Rabbi Stuart Rosen of Kenesset Israel Torah Center.
Rabbi Bloom said: "It is impossible for me to express my appreciation to the Catholic Bishops of the United States. I personally thank Bishop Weigand for his leadership during these difficult days."
Rabbi Rosen declared he was "overwhelmed at the generous support from the entire Catholic community. The best response to violence and hate is love," he said. Rabbi Rosen pointed out that at this time "the Jewish community is remembering for nine days not only the destruction of the ancient temple in Jerusalem, but also the burning of our temple in Sacramento. "Out of this double mourning comes hope and a tremendous affection that are pure gifts of love."
Last week the Diocese of Sacramento gave $10,000 toward the "Unity Fund" for the burned synagogues and another $10,000 towards the establishment of a Center of Tolerance to fight violence and hate.