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May 28, 2018 5:10 pm

Oxford Community Leaders Condemn Antisemitism After Local Chabad Faces Two Attacks in May

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The Chabad of Oxford on Cowley Rd, Oxford, England. Photo: Google Maps.

A Jewish student center serving the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom was subject to two attacks this month, drawing condemnation from community leaders.

On May 19, the eve of the Jewish holiday of Shavuot, two unidentified offenders placed “antisemitic” notes and sparked a fire at the Chabad of Oxford, Thames Valley Police said.

“Thankfully the fire burned out within a couple of minutes, it didn’t cause significant damage and no-one was injured,” said Detective Sergeant George Atkinson of the incident, which was classified as a hate crime.

Four days later, a white powder and offensive notes — one reading “Jew House” — were found at the center. The substance was later identified as talcum powder.

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Rabbi Eli Brackman, who directs Oxford Chabad alongside his wife Freidy, described the attack on Thursday as a “minor [antisemitic] incident” and said that “everyone is safe.”

“The powder that was left today was not part of a trend,” Brackman told Chabad.org. “While the notes tell us that the perpetrators were clearly acting out of antisemitism, all indicators, including video footage, indicate that it was an isolated incident.”

The attack raised concern among some community officials, including Layla Moran, a member of parliament representing Oxford.

“We cannot tolerate antisemitism of any kind in Oxford,” she said, calling the incident “shocking and deeply distressing.”

Tom Hayes, the Oxford city councillor for the district where the attack took place, described Oxford Chabad as “a hub of Jewish life in the city,” adding, “We deplore every act of antisemitism and stand with our Jewish community.”

The center, which services local Jewish students and faculty, includes a synagogue, kosher café, and dining room for Shabbat and holiday dinners. It also hosts a lecture series that has featured speakers including former Canadian Justice Minister Irwin Cotler, retired Harvard Law Professor Alan Dershowitz, and former Chief Rabbi of Israel Rabbi Israel Meir Lau.

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