HOUSTON – A woman accused of breaking into a synagogue twice in recent weeks and desecrating the Torah was taken into custody after a judge revoked her bond.
Ezra Law, 33, is facing two charges: felony criminal mischief inside a place of worship and misdemeanor criminal mischief. On Saturday, Jan. 14, a rabbi preparing for a Bar Mitzvah said a woman broke into the Congregation Elmanu El synagogue, desecrated the pulpit, and spilled red wine.
Law was appointed an attorney. During Monday’s court appearance, she repeatedly approached the bailiff about trying to speak with the judge. She had a letter she wanted to read. While seating, she repeatedly approached the judge. At one point the bailiff said, “you are not a board-certified attorney. You need to wait,” when she tried to ask about the judge.
Assistant District Attorney Erica Winsor said Law removed the Torah from the pulpit and spread it on the ground.
“Most importantly, there was a Torah scroll that was removed from the Holy Arc and spread out on the floor. And there was red wine that was spilled on that scroll,” Winsor said. “The damage is immeasurable because it can’t just be replaced, it can’t be repaired – it has to be replaced.”
“The other part of this is we often hear kosher to describe food or things that people eat but a religious item has to be kosher,” Winsor said. “And so, this item is no longer kosher and cannot be used by the congregation until they’re able to go able through a cleansing process and they don’t know if they’ll be able to do that or if this item is lost.”
Winsor said Law made several social media posts where she identifies the executive director, adding their date of birth and a death date for 2023. She said it was “threatening” and in violation of her personal recognizance bond of not committing other crimes, Winsor added.
Winsor said Law was arrested and bonded out. Prosecutors say instead of showing up to court for her arraignment Friday, she returned to the congregation during a preschool class.
“What I know, she entered the building. There was some screaming that happened. The teachers were able to identify her as the same individual who had entered the previous weekend,” said Winsor. “The children were all moved to safety. No one was harmed in any way, but they were extremely frightened by this individual.”
“I think there was enough blame to go around,” KPRC 2′s legal analyst Brian Wice said. “But the magistrate judge in my estimation should have granted the states multiple requests for things like no firearms possession, GPS monitoring and why on earth this magistrate judge would deny the state’s request for a bond as opposed to a PR bond (personal recognizance) is beyond me.”
In a statement to KPRC 2, Rabbi Oren J. Hayon writes the congregation remains committed to preserving Emanu El as a place where the community can safely gather to pray, learn, and celebrate. He adds, “The events of this past week have made many of us concerned about our safety and that of our loved ones. Our security team is committed to ensuring the safety and security of congregants, staff, and especially our children.”