Swedish Rabbi threatened by known antisemite
Gothenburg – In the wake of the horrific terror attack on a Jerusalem synagogue this
Tuesday, the rabbi of the Jewish community in Gothenburg, the second largest
city in Sweden, has received deaths threats to burn down his synagogue – with
him inside of it.
Rabbi Hillel Ḥayyim Lavery-Yisraëli made aliyah (immigration) to Israel
at the age of 19 from Canada. After graduating the Merkaz Harav Yeshiva in
Jerusalem, he has served as Gothenburg’s rabbi since 2012. The married father
of four serves in the city’s Great Synagogue, which was built in 1865 and is
the oldest in the country, and which has now been threatened with destruction.
On Wednesday, a day after the Jerusalem attack, the rabbi told Arutz
Sheva he received a letter from an anonymous source to his work e-mail address
at the Jewish community referencing the attack in which four Jews and a Druze
police officer were murdered.
“What a wonderful day!
Four of your satanic murderers were taken from the world, how wonderful! But
what a pity that you weren’t among them, you lowly pedophile! But soon will
come the time when the Gothenburg synagogue will be destroyed to the ground
with you inside, and then you too, you pig, will be killed in the eternal
fire,” read the threatening e-mail.
Lavery-Yisraëli noted that the letter in the original Swedish has
numerous spelling and grammatical errors indicating the writer may not have
been a native Swede, which would possibly lead to suspicions the culprit was a
However, he emphasizes the writer has written to him before in letters
criticizing ritual circumcision, suggesting he is likely a neo-Nazi and not a
Muslim given that Islam appropriated the practice of circumcision.
In fact this is the sixth letter the rabbi has received from the same
anonymous writer since February. In one case after the lethal attack on a
Jewish museum in Belgium in May, he wrote “what a wonderful day” –
but the rabbi notes this time is different from the past given the direct
threatening nature of the letter.
The story of the threats got out to local Swedish media, but
Lavery-Yisraëli points out the press has been inaccurate in its coverage.
Göteborgs-Tidningen removed the context of the letter praising the
Jerusalem attack, and only reported on the threat to burn the synagogue with
the rabbi inside. Meanwhile the larger paper Göteborgs-Posten included the
important context, but it made the inaccurate claim that the two Arab
terrorists who conducted the attack were disguised as hareidi Jews.