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Yerevan Synagogue attacked for fourth time in a year

12 June 2024
The Mordechai Navi Synagogue in Yerevan. Image via ChaiKhana.

Yerevan’s synagogue has been attacked for the fourth time since October 2023, in a series of incidents that many in the city’s Jewish community suggest are part of a ‘provocation’ from outside of Armenia.

The Mordechai Navi Synagogue, the only synagogue in Armenia, was attacked on Sunday night with an unidentified person throwing a brick through one of its windows.

The Yerevan Jewish Home Telegram channel reported on the attack on Monday, publishing photos of the damaged window and quoting Chief Rabbi Gershon-Meir Burstein as saying the attack was the fourth of its kind.

A member of the Jewish community’s Telegram channel also said that security cameras recorded the culprit.

The attack was condemned by the government, with Arayik Harutyunyan, Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan’s chief of staff, condemning ‘every case and attempt of national and religious xenophobia’.

‘An atmosphere of tolerance and mutual respect prevails in our society towards national minorities. Moreover, representatives of national minorities are involved in all spheres of public life. We are sure that law enforcement officers will do everything to reveal the circumstances of the recorded incident’, Harutyunyan told Armenpress.

Armenia’s Investigative Committee told RFE/RL that they had received a report on the incident and that they had instructed police to launch an investigation.


Roman Lapin, a member of Armenia’s Jewish community told OC Media he was gratified by the public’s response.

‘We hear voices of support from residents of Armenia and we know that they do not support such actions’, he said. 

Lapin added that employees of the Investigative Committee had already begun their investigation.

‘We will consider the issue closed when both this person and the participants in the previous attacks are detained and a court decision is made,’ said Lapin.

An outside job?

The Mordechai Navi Synagogue has been the target of several attacks and acts of vandalism since October. However, many in the local Jewish community, including the Chief Rabbi, have suggested they may have been carried out by outsiders. 

In November, local media reported that an unknown arsonist attempted to set fire to the synagogue. A Telegram channel claiming to be run by the youth wing of the Armenian Secret Army for the Liberation of Armenia (ASALA), a defunct paramilitary organisation, claimed responsibility for the attack.

The channel accused the Jewish Centre, which they also reportedly attacked, of conducting ‘espionage in the interests of Tel Aviv and [Azerbaijani President Ilham] Aliyev’s zionist junta’.

Israel and Azerbaijan enjoy close ties, with Israel exporting arms and munitions to Azerbaijan.

In an interview with CivilNet in November, Chief Rabbi Burstein said that he viewed the act as a ‘non-political, staged, and demonstrative in nature, in order to falsely accuse Armenians of anti-Semitism’.

The head of the Jewish Home in Yerevan, Nathaniel Trubkin, also stated that the attack was ‘another action directed not against Jews, but against Armenia itself, in order to present it as an intolerant country. I urge you not to succumb to provocations’.

Two days after the arson attempt, Armenia’s Investigative Committee stated that the attacker was neither an Armenian citizen nor resident. They added that the arsonist ‘immediately left’ Armenia after the attack, though they did not publicly identify them.

They also noted that footage of the incident was widely shared on Azerbaijani social media ‘with the intent to incite racial, national, ethnic, religious hostility and commit the alleged crime by destroying or damaging cultural values’.

Jewish community member Roman Lapin shared the view that the incident was not what it might first appear, telling OC Media that the attacks were an ‘undoubted provocation, the roots of which do not grow from the Armenian community, but from outside’.

‘This is evidenced by the fact that absolutely every attack was accompanied by external media pressure and was used in Armenophobic propaganda, with details that were known to the attackers and us, but were not made public in the Armenian media.’

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