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The Destruction of the Welsh Shul and its irreplaceable 300-Year Old Sefer Torah
Last uploaded : Sunday 14th Jul 2002 at 20:13
Contributed by : Sheila Raviv


Wales: many of you call it part of England but it isn't. Wales is a country with its own language and its own character. Wales is about the same size as Israel, with about three million citizens. Apart from its Prince and its steady production of authors, poets, actors and singers, most people know little about Wales.

When Jews came to Wales they were accepted totally. No stories of children looking for the horns on Jewish heads. The Welsh are Baptists and since most of them did not ride, shop, write or play music on the Sabbath (Sunday) they saw nothing strange in the Jews who did the same on their Sabbath (Saturday). Welsh high society had always accepted Jews. My Mother was on committees and organisations with many Ladies and Peers who accepted her with love. My memories of growing up in Wales are fond and I am proud to be Welsh/Israeli.

Because of that gentle history I was shocked to hear of the clear racist attack on the Old Shule (synagogue) in Swansea. Swansea, a sea-side town whose Jewish community has harmoniously existed for more than 250 years. Harry Sherman, leader of the remnants of the small community, expressed his astonishment at the attack. "Surely it cannot be racist, not here" Sadly, Mr Sherman, it can and it was. Daubed swastikas and a shredded Sefer Torah are not the work of vandals, this is foul, racist and targetted. If the community and the police do not accept that it has started in Wales, and deal heavily with it, then you are in for a very rough ride.

Even Toronto. Quiet, some say boring,Toronto, with a strong and vociferous Jewish community. Well, a Jew walked into a pizzeria, The King David Restaurant and was stabbed to death for it. The Restaurant is Israeli owned. I have no doubt that many Canadian Jews will claim it was a) Israels fault b) the man was wearing "Jewish" garb, he should not be so obvious.

Friends, when a synagogue is trashed in a place like Wales and a Jew is stabbed to death in Toronto because he looked Jewish then we all have to search our souls and decide that we have a huge problem. Not an Israeli problem, not even a Jewish problem, it is a world problem. Today they attack a Jew with a Kippa, tomorrow a Sikh with a turban, a woman in inappropriate garb, and so on. The neo-Nazis have fallen into the trap, thinking that they are part of the fight; they are simply manipulated pawns, their natural hatred being cunningly channeled.

Belgium, Denmark, Sweden, Switzerland all have laws pending to ban Kosher meat claiming the killing is inhumane, yet allow Halal meat. Those countries want to ban circumcision of baby boys (Brit Mila) yet allow male circumcision in older children as required by Islam. In France and Belgium several synagogues have been trashed, but we say "Well, what can one expect from the French or French speakers".

It is wake-up time. Stand up, speak up in your churches and synagogues. If you have clout then get onto television and let the world see that we are not cowed, we do not have to conform to an unclear norm. We love our differences and honour them. Don't let it happen to a synagogue near you.



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