Police in Richardson, Texas suspect arson was the cause of a car fire Saturday night behind a small office park where a Messianic Jewish congregation gathers to worship, the Dallas Morning News reports.
Sgt. Keith Cannon said police were working to determine whether the congregation was a specific target of the fire.
About 7:45 p.m., a burning car was reported in an alley directly behind the back door of the area leased by the congregation.
Omar Havdalla, a member of the Simchat Torah Messianic Synagogue, said about 15 of the congregation’s 25 members were inside watching a movie at the time, something they do monthly after Saturday night services.
He said they heard something outside the back door and went to investigate.
“Of course it is a hate crime,” Mr. Havdalla said. “It was directed at us because we’re Jewish.”
Messianic Jews, whom most Jews do not consider to be Jewish, believe that Jesus is the messiah but observe Jewish traditions such as worshipping on Saturdays, following kosher practices and celebrating Jewish holidays.