Rabbi Hillel Feldman returns to Sparta to open a new temple in the old Methodist church, a gift to the Jewish community. The temple is vandalized by two teenagers, Kevin Powell and Pete Retson. Chief Hampton Forbes and Harriet DeLong, a high school friend of the rabbi, offer help, which Feldman accepts. However, he eschews calling in Sheriff Bill Gillespie because of old anti-Semitic feelings. The Sparta City Council are generally opposed to the temple's existence. The temple custodian, Jack Bicks, vandalizes the temple and steals a valuable Torah, which he tries to sell to the antiques store owner. Dissatisfied with the price offered, Bicks kills the store owner. Bill Gillespie must face old resentments and old sins, and try to make amends.