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Reflections on a bad news week

The drama of the Islamist hostage assault in Mumbai that has been unfolding over the past few days has been quite surreal.  As the bad news filtered through Synagogues around the world across Shabbat, the severity of yet another callous attack on innocent victims became ready apparant.

Jewgle Perth, in solidarity with Jews around the world, mourns all the victims of the Mumbai attacks, and extends deepest sympathy to the thousands of people who are greiving for their family and friends. 

Of all the news of the past few days, perhaps the most distressing image has been of the two year old son of murdered Rabbi and Rebbitzen Gavriel and Rivka Holtzberg (ZL), who escaped from the beseiged Jewish centre and was calling out for his mother. 

Who can imagine the horror and terror of being in a community building, a place of worship, when suddenly your life work is brought to an end by incomprehenisble terrorism?  How can any human being with an intellect and a soul justify, in the name of a religious act, hostage taking and murder?

Chabad houses have been established all around the world as a spiritual home to places where Jewish communal life would otherwise not exist.  Emissiaries (shluchim) give up their home comforts, family connections and at great personal sacrifice go to places where very few Jewish people reside.  Starting with nothing they build communities, host travellers, and bring yiddishkeit back to those who have been distanced from modern Jewish living.

It is intolerable that a facility such as Chabad House in Mumbai should be targetted.  This was not random.  It was an intentional and planned assault on a Jewish facility.  To have the good work of this insitution instantly brought to a bloody end is an attack on all Jewish people in every part of the world.

Jewish community centres the world over are vulnerable to attack, and in recent years many places have sadly been vandalised, threatened and targeted.  In Australia alone more than 600 anti-Semitic attacks have occured in the last six months.  As is sadly common, I was verbally abused by a passing motorist on the way home from the Synagogue today.  It is suddenly in vogue to deamonise Jews.

Rabbi Freilich has often noted that the best response to Anti-Semitism is to be more Semitic.  Our response here in Perth, and no doubt the response of Jewish communities around the world, will be to strengthen our resolve, and meet this physical destruction with spiritual intensity.  We will remain vigilent, and mitigate any threats to our security.  But we will uphold our identity as Jews with pride, and we will continue to work towards creating a world of mutual tolerance, monotheistic respect, and of high ethical standing. 

May no further blood be spilt, and may the nations of the world wrest control of the radical Islamist insanity that places no value on human life.

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