As Israel’s battle against Hizbullah attacks enters its third week, Jewish communities around the world are reacting with caution and calm to a spike in anti-Semitic incidents.
Sydney and North Miami Beach have been rocked by episodes of anti-Jewish actions over the weekend. They come after as the Jewish world mourns the shooting death, at the hands of a proclaimed Muslim, of a Jewish woman in the headquarters of Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle. Late Monday night, a “visibly orthodox Jewish” man was attacked in Melbourne, according to Australia’s Herald Sun, and two more suburban synagogues were defaced with swastikas there.
Concrete blocks thrown by assailants around 9 p.m. Saturday night shattered the stain glass window of a synagogue in Parramatta, Sydney, along with the windows of two cars parked on the property. Rabbi Yosef Wernick, spiritual leader of the synagogue and a Chabad community member, his wife and six children were home, next door, at the time of the attack. Ten youths were seen running from the scene, laughing as they went. Composed but shaken, Composed but shaken, Rabbi Wernick wondered aloud to the media why his synagogue would be targeted. Few in Parramatta had visited Israel. They came to the area, he said, for peace and "to live in quiet.
"Authorities were hesitant to label the strike anti-Semitic. “At this stage, we are not investigating it as race related,” said New South Wales Police Acting Inspector Col Green. “We’re investigating it as malicious damage to property.”
In the face of the attack, Rabbi Wernick was defiant. “We will continue our work and expand it.”
Similar sentiments were expressed by Chabad community member Yossi Bronstein, of North Miami Beach, proprietor of Judaica Enterprises, a book and gift shop defaced by swastikas and the KKK initials around 2 a.m. Monday morning. Next door, the Kosher World supermarket, was spray painted in the same fashion, as were two synagogues in the area. “We are standing firm and strong against the message of hatred,” said Bronstein.
Grateful that the vandalism was limited to superficial graffiti scribbles, quickly scrubbed away by city workers, Bronstein expressed surprise that his store would be targeted. Customers of all faiths frequent the store “comfortable to ask questions about Judaism and the news in Israel,” he said. Today, shoppers flocked to Judaica Enterprises, showing support for Bronstein. “Many people are coming in buying anything that’s made in Israel,” he said.
Early this morning, Rabbi Rafi Rosenberg found his Chabad of Skylake in North Miami Beach, FL, spattered with egg. He alerted police. “It is important to be dealt with now so it doesn’t become anything bigger.” It is not known if the attacks are related. After taking down the report, police upped their surveillance of the synagogue. Rabbi Rosenberg plans on installing security cameras outside the synagogue to deter, or record, future attacks.