Rabbi reveals Stamford Hill synagogue brawl was sparked by party dispute


An attack on a synagogue in north London in the early hours of Sunday morning was sparked by a Jewish teenager's dispute with a party-goer, the JC understands.

The incident led to a group of teenagers smashing doors and windows at the Ahavas Torah building in Craven Park Road, Stamford Hill.

The shul is also used as a drop-in centre for Jewish youths and a number of people were in the building when the incident took place at around 1.15am.

Community leaders and police confirmed on Wednesday that the fracas was not motivated by antisemitism, and began when a dispute spilled out of a nearby house-party.

Rabbi Maurice Davis said: "There was a party happening across the road. We think a Jewish boy at the party ran out and got into a fight with other party-goers on the street. He came into the shul and it got out of hand, that's when the other people smashed the windows.

"We want people to know it wasn't an antisemitic incident.Tottenham is such a wonderful place to live we have tremendous social cohesion here, and everybody gets on and we haven't had any experience of antisemitism.

"We have had support from our local mosque, our local churches.

"The owners of the house where the party took place are horrified. They came into the shul on Sunday, crying and saying they were so sorry."

A public meeting was held on Wednesday to reassure Jewish community members about the true nature of the fight.

Metropolitan Police Commander Mak Chishty said: "There was a very serious incident which took place on Saturday night which could have easily got out of hand, but as communities we have come to stand together.

"It was not antisemitic, thank God, but it was a crime and it was anti-social behaviour and we all understood that."

It is understood that following the dispute the Jewish reveller ran to hide in the shul building.

When other party-goers arrived in search of the teenager, the Jewish youths inside the centre believed they were under antisemitic attack.

Video of the incident posted online on Sunday showed around 10 people inside the synagogue defending themselves with chairs and makeshift clubs as the apparently drunk youths attempted to force their way in through a set of double doors.

The gang, which included two girls, were shown throwing missiles, smashing glass and threatening shul members who are barring their entry.

The gang is alleged to have shouted "kill the Jews", but only one person is believed to be facing investigation for racially aggravated abuse.

On Monday, the Metropolitan Police said the incident was being treated as antisemitic, but that there was no reason to believe it was “a planned or targeted attack”.

A Scotland Yard statement had said: “At this early stage, there is no suggestion that this was a far-right or extremist attack but rather the completely unacceptable actions of a drunken group.”

Four men and two women, all in their late teens, were arrested for public order offences and assault. They have been bailed until mid-May while investigations continue.

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