Home Breaking News Essex Rabbi speaks out on ‘frightening’ anti-Semitic threats of violence and abuse

Essex Rabbi speaks out on ‘frightening’ anti-Semitic threats of violence and abuse


An Essex Rabbi has spoken out about his fears after an increase in anti-Semitic incidents throughout the nation.

Less than two weeks in the past, a video started to flow into social media exhibiting vile anti-Semitic abuse shouted from a automobile in north London.

The similar day, Essex Police confirmed {that a} Rabbi in Chigwell had been taken to hospital following a “religiously aggravated assault” near his synagogue.

In the eleven days from the escalation of violence in Israel and Gaza, between May 8 and May 18, the Community Security Trust, which advises British Jews on safety issues, reported there had been 116 anti-Semitic incidents – a fivefold enhance previous to May 8.

For Senior Rabbi Mordechai Wollenberg, of Woodford Forest United Synagogue, the information of the assault on the Chigwell Rabbi was “very painful” and has left him feeling uncomfortable.

He added the current rise in anti-Semitic incidents – together with listening to deplorable chants of ‘kill the Jews’ – is deeply “scary”, a lot so, he stated that members of the Jewish neighborhood really feel it is just a “matter of time” earlier than somebody dies within the nation in consequence of anti-Semitic threats and abuse.

“I fear about my youngsters figuring out as Jewish”

Senior Rabbi Mordechai Wollenberg with the late Chief Rabbi

For the final six years residing right here, Rabbi Wollenberg stated he and his 9 youngsters – aged between 16 months to 17-years-old – have discovered London and Essex to be “extraordinarily tolerant”.

However, in the previous couple of weeks, seeing incidents shared within the information and on-line has led him to really feel uncomfortable.

He stated: “My spouse went to get her vaccine the opposite day and I went along with her and it was the primary time I assumed, ‘Do I put a kippah on?’

“I assumed, I do not know who’s going or who can be there and I felt barely uncomfortable.”

He added: “I’m fearful about my youngsters figuring out as Jewish, as a result of what has occurred in current weeks may be very ugly.

“Sentiments underneath the floor have come to the floor now. It’s not new, we’ve seen it earlier than and it’s taking place once more.”

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Rabbi Wollenberg stated the final time he felt this manner was when there was a “severe prospect of Jeremy Corbyn being prime minister”.

“I undoubtedly really feel there’s far more of an angst and I sense that as a neighborhood, for these of us most seen, which I’m, we’re main targets of bodily hate assaults,” he stated.

“We have seen it occur and seen that change in current weeks.”

He added: “You nonetheless suppose, that would occur to me. I’m clearly Jewish and my children are clearly Jewish. I do not hate who I’m however we’re additionally just a little cautious. You must take care and defend your self outdoors.”

Largely, Rabbi Wollenberg stated the youthful era he speaks with and his personal youngsters haven’t got the identical anxieties as he does – one thing he’s eager to not challenge onto them.

Even so, he has seen small modifications in the way in which they behave in mild of current occasions.

He stated: “My son was going out and was going to place on a masks when he was leaving and one of the masks had Hebrew on it that stated ‘Love your neighbour as your self’ and he stated ‘I most likely should not put on that on a tube, individuals will most likely get a bit jumpy’ and that was actually sensible.”

“Words have penalties”

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Rabbi Wollenberg in a pulpit of his synagogue

While Rabbi Wollenberg believes some of the protests and vigils we’ve seen in current weeks are performed with “good intentions”, he stated they’re very troublesome too.

He added that discussions really feel more and more extra directed on the Jewish neighborhood, evaluating the current anti-Semitic spike to the rise in Islamophobic incidents post-911.

“Words have penalties,” he continued.

“It’s a story that I take without any consideration about Israel however it’s a place the place individuals’s lives and the place individuals’s hearts are and that’s clearly a really totally different view to how the Muslim neighborhood really feel.

“We can all have our views so long as it does not spill out into how we deal with one another.”

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Rabbi Wollenberg added: “The one factor that sticks out to me is also there’s a peculiar double customary in our tradition.

“Every liberal trigger going, individuals bounce on the bandwagon and Jews are the one minority who they’ll say ‘cease complaining’.

“If it was the opposite means round, it would not be like that. We say we really feel threatened on the streets and really feel uncomfortable and individuals say ‘sorry it is our freedom of speech’.”

“It’s a catastrophe ready to occur”

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Rabbi Wollenberg talking at Eton Road Islamic Centre

Sadly, Rabbi Wollenberg stated there clearly nonetheless is anti-Semitism in our communities.

“I’m conscious of incidents that do not get reported or verbal incidents, so clearly it’s a drawback, that occurs and everybody has a narrative,” he stated.

“We are fortunate to reside in a really quiet neighbourhood and everyone seems to be extraordinarily properly behaved however over in Gants Hill or Barkingside, individuals have been shouted at or had gestures.”

Terrifyingly, Rabbi Wollenberg has seen movies in current weeks the place individuals are allegedly chanting “Kill the Jews”.

He stated: “I do not know a lot Arabic however I understand how you say ‘Kill the Jews’ and listening to individuals shouting that in tandem – they weren’t shouting ‘Kill Israelis’, they’re saying ‘Kill the Jews’ and it is taking place now in our nation and social media means we’re all conscious of it.

“That may be very scary. We know from Jewish historical past that we are sometimes not taken significantly. People are making these threats, what occurs subsequent?

“If there is a message to ‘go kill the Jews’ then somebody will go do it. I’ve heard quite a bit from Jewish pals say it is solely a matter of time earlier than somebody dies.

“That does not imply it’s essentially going to occur in Essex however nationally, it is a catastrophe ready to occur.”

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Generally, Rabbi Wollenberg stated there was an enormous quantity of understanding from native religion communities throughout Essex and worldwide who’ve proven an “overwhelming response of kindness”.

However, he believes the situations of anti-Semitism have to be addressed.

“There’s an issue and it exists,” he stated. “Anti-Semitism is in public life and British society – it’s a small blot however it’s there. We cannot protend it does not exist.”

“Slightly mild can dispel quite a bit of darkness”

On prime of every thing, Rabbi Wollenberg is eager to emphasize that his underlying message is one of hope.

“Judaism believes within the inherent good of each the world and humanity and that just a little mild can dispel quite a bit of darkness,” he added.

“It is that this message that retains us going even at nighttime instances, that we will make a distinction by our acts of kindness and our performing Mitzvot- commandments – even in difficult instances.”

  • Rabbi Wollenberg and his household can even be that includes in an episode of Stacey Dooley Sleeps tonight (Monday, May 31) on the channel W.