Over the 17 years she has been teaching at Columbia University’s Teachers College, Elizabeth Midlarsky had often considered hanging a mezuzah on the doorpost of her office. One problem she faced was how to nail it into the metal doorframe.
The savage beating of a 14-year-old Orthodox teenager by a half-dozen men and youths in Lakewood, N.J., Saturday evening is being investigated as a bias crime because his attackers shouted “f---ing Jew” as they punched and kicked him in the head, according to police.
“He was beaten pretty good,” said Det. Lt. Joseph Isnardi, commander of the Detective Bureau.
There were fears that the already polarized community of Lakewood, N.J. — where an Orthodox influx has roiled tensions with African Americans — would boil over in the wake of a savage beating of an Orthodox rabbi by a black man.
But an organization formed a year ago of representatives of the major ethnic groups in Lakewood is credited with defusing tensions there following the baseball bat beating there last week of Rabbi Mordechai Moskowitz.
Gene Lesserson rushed to his synagogue in Hauppauge, L.I., at 7:30 Sunday morning after learning that an arsonist had torched the building during the night, destroying a ground floor office.
“It’s a sickening feeling to see our little shul damaged by an arson fire,” he said later. “I walked in there and had the feeling that my own house was destroyed. You could still smell the smoke from even outside the building. It was everywhere — in the carpets and the talleisim. … Everything is going to have to be cleaned.”
The deaths of 15 people — including 13 non-Jews — in an apparent terrorist attack last week at a Tunisian synagogue underscores the need for non-Jews to join Jews in fighting a wave of anti-Semitic violence, according to Israel’s deputy foreign minister.
“We have to act with all our strength, Jews and non-Jews alike, because anti-Semitism always undermines the fundamentals of society,” Rabbi Michael Melchior said.
More firebombings rocked Jewish institutions in France, Belgium and Canada in the past week, including three more synagogue attacks, even as an estimated 200,000 Jews in France — half the country’s adult Jewish population — marched Sunday to protest anti-Semitism and in support of Israel.
An armed guard has been posted at the Hillel building at Brown University after the weekend firebombing of the off-campus apartment of Hillel’s Israeli emissary.
Two Molotov cocktails were hurled at the second floor apartment of Yossi Knafo, 24, at about 1:15 a.m. Saturday.
One hit an outside wall and caused a minor fire. A second firebomb was thrown through an open bedroom window; the bottle did not break and it caused no damage.
The America of today is not the America of 40 years ago, but young people still need role models and Carolyn Goodman of Manhattan said her slain son should be among them.
“I think Andrew was the model of a steadfast person who believed that it’s important to reach out to people no matter what their color or ethnicity or race,” she said. “That is what he meant to people 40 years ago and it’s even more important today because we are living in precarious times.”
An Albanian Muslim whose father was honored by Israel for saving Jews during the Holocaust, was granted political asylum last week by a judge in Boston after he testified that Islamic fundamentalists threatened him and his family if he stayed in Albania.
“Thank you, thank you,” Bujar Veselaj told Immigration Judge Robin Suter after she ruled that his testimony was “extremely credible” and that he and his family had faced not only persecution but “extreme psychological torture.”
The murder of a 22-year-old Jewish day school teacher in St. Petersburg, Russia, has raised fears in that city that it may have been an anti-Semitic attack. Dmitri Nikulinsky was found bleeding profusely from a stab wound in the neck last Saturday.
But a suspect in the case reportedly said he attacked the teacher after seeing him with a former girlfriend.
Meanwhile, two men have been imprisoned in Canada on charges of firebombing a Jewish school, a community center and a vehicle in Montreal in separate incidents over the past several months.