2018-08-29 / World News

Swastikas scrawled at cradle of Lubavitch movement

Anti-Semitic slogans were scrawled on the fence of a Jewish cultural center in the Russian village of Lyubavichi, the cradle of the Chabad Hasidic movement.

The inscriptions, reading “Jews out of Russia, our land” and featuring the Baltic variant of the swastika, were spray-painted on the wall of the Hatzer Raboteinu Nesieinu Belubavitch. Police are looking for suspects, according to Gavriel Gordon, a Chabad rabbi who is trying to preserve the movement’s heritage sites in what used to be its center over a century ago.

Situated near Smolensk and the border with Belarus, Lyubavichi became a major Jewish hub following the settling there in 1813 of Rabbi Dovber Schneuri, a leader of the Chabad movement of Orthodox Jews. Chabad is the acronym of the Hebrew-language words for wisdom, intelligence and knowledge.

The movement, perhaps best known for its outreach to non-Hasidic Jews, also refers to itself as Chabad-Lubavitch in reference to how the town’s name is pronounced in Yiddish.

By 1857, Lyubavichi was a large Jewish town, or shtetl, with 2,500 residents. But most left during the Communist Revolution of 1917. Those who remained were murdered in the Holocaust.

The vandalism occurred amid preparations for a major international event in Lyubavichi. The European Jewish Cemeteries Initiative and Chabad plan to unveil the new fencing and preservation project at the Jewish cemetery, where several Chabad sages are buried. Joseph Popack, a Jewish-American donor, funded the new fencing. (JTA)

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