Rabbi’s sons victims of antisemitic abuse in park

The boys were left ‘very shaken’ after encounter with gang of teenagers.


The new rabbi of Borehamwood United Synagogue has had an unwelcome start to his tenure after two of his children were the targets of antisemitic abuse, including an alleged assault, at a local park.

Rabbi Alex Chapper, who assumed his position after Pesach, described how two of his sons, aged 12 and 14, “met a friend and went to the local park in Borehamwood, very near our house.

“Whilst in the park, they were surrounded by a group of teenagers around the same age who were calling out abusive antisemitic words to them, for example ‘f***ing Jews’.

“They tried to extract themselves from the situation but were followed and surrounded.

“Fortunately there was a member of the community there [in the park] who called the police”.

His sons had been left “very shaken” by the incident, Rabbi Chapper said.

“We used to live in Ilford. We’ve only recently moved to Borehamwood, and although we’ve had abuse previously, we’ve had nothing of this type before, so publicly and in the daylight.

“Actually the first week we were here we were walking home on a Friday evening, and there were teenagers shouting abuse at us as well. We ignored that, but this sort of the thing, with children in the park, it’s just not acceptable”.

In a Facebook post, Rabbi Chapper's Eva thanked the local community for their support in the wake of the attack after many had left her messages on social media.

Mrs Chapper wrote: “Thank you everyone for all your concern. The boys are ok and the police and CST are dealing with it.

“I would like to point out that a local 11-year-old boy came over and told the older boys to leave my sons alone, he was very brave to do that and he also hung around to speak to police.”

Simon Mitchell, the incoming chairman of the Borehamwood and Elstree synagogue, said the community were "immediately made aware of this unfortunate incident and have given full support to Rabbi Chapper, his family and those who were affected.

"Thankfully, incidents of this nature in our community are rare, so we were shocked to hear this had happened. We'd like to thank Hertfordshire police and of course the CST for their swift response in dealing with this matter".

A spokesperson for Hertfordshire police said: “Officers are investigating a racially aggravated incident that occurred in Aberford Park, Borehamwood, on Sunday, May 7.

“A 14 year-old boy’s skull-cap was knocked off his head and he was kicked in his leg. During the incident racially aggravated comments were also made to a 12 year-old boy.

“Inquiries are on-going and anyone with information is asked to contact Hertfordshire Constabulary via the non-emergency number 101, quoting the crime reference J1/17/1946”.

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