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Jewish centre damaged in drunken incident

The Lehrhaus Centre for Jewish Thought, which is operated by Chabad of Cambridge, had its windows broken during Shabbat

    A Jewish centre in Cambridge has had its windows broken during a drunken incident in the city.

    The Lehrhaus Centre for Jewish Thought, which is operated by Chabad of Cambridge, had its windows broken on Friday night during Shabbat.

    The incident was originally reported as an act of vandalism, possibly antisemitic, after the founder of the centre, Rabbi Reuven Leigh, told theThe Tab: "With antisemitism rife in the Labour party and the racist xenophobia unleashed by Brexit, we as Jews feel terrified that Europe may no longer be a safe place for Jews.

    “We must never forget what happened on this continent just 70 years ago which started with vandalism of Jewish shop fronts in Germany."

    The windows of the centre were boarded up and Rabbi Leigh said the incident had been reported to the police and the Community Security Trust.

    The building, which is used by a wider range of members of the Jewish community, opened in 2013.

    Cambridge University Jewish Society presidents, Abby Zucker and Sarah Davidson, said: "We were sorry to hear about damage to the Cambridge Lehrhaus.

    “While we hope the incident was random, some residents will be taking extra precautions, but we hope that students remain confident that Cambridge continues to be a safe and welcoming place for the Jewish student community."

    But Rabbi Leigh then issued a second starement days later, in which he claimed his original comments were a joke to “teach irresponsible student journalists” a lesson. 

    He said: “It wasn’t antisemitic, just one of the things to happen on the busy high street. Windows get broken sometimes and it was our turn.

    “I wanted to say something ridiculous."

    He said the window had been broken by a drunken student who got in touch with the centre and offered to fix it.

    “He had just got out of hospital after receiving stitches to his face, he apologised profusely for the damage to the window which he accidentally fell through, and offered to cover the expense of any repairs.

    “We send our heartfelt wishes to Ross for a speedy recovery, applaud his mentschlechkeit for getting in touch, and thank him for restoring our faith in humanity.”

    • This article and its headline have been amended as a result of the second statement issued by Rabbi Leigh in the days after the piece was originally published. 

     

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