A Jewish school in Australia has built a bomb-proof wall to protect it and an adjacent synagogue, in a dramatic - and expensive - response to a spate of anti-Semitic incidents which has left Australia's Jewish community feeling shaken.
The Yeshiva Center in Bondi has erected the concrete wall, and installed dozens and CCTV cameras and even bomb-proof windows, according to the Wentworth Courier. The Center houses the Yeshiva College, as well as the Yeshiva Synagogue and a Chabad center.
The project cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, and was funded by a combination of private donors, as well as government grants to the tune of $519,000.
Bondi, famous for its beautiful beaches, has in recent months been touched by the ugly wave of anti-Semitism which has swept the world since the start of Israel's military operation against Gazan terrorists. A range of radical groups - from the far-left and right, to Muslim extremists - have taken advantage of anti-Israel sentiment to target Jews and Jewish institutions. Although the majority of that global spike in anti-Semitism was centered in Europe, communities from North America to South Africa and Australia have also seen an increase in hate crimes against Jews since the start of the 50-day war.
In Bondi last month, a particularly shocking incident occurred when a group of drunken anti-Semites boarded Jewish elementary school bus and threatened to murder the children on board. That attack left many Australian Jews feeling vulnerable, and was only the latest in a string of anti-Semitic crimes throughout Australia over the summer - ranging from graffiti, to neo-Nazi hate-fliers in Syndey, to physical assaults.
Yeshiva Director Rabbi Dovid Slavin told the Courier that those incidents - particularly the school bus incident - had pushed him to take the drastic action in an effort to calm parents' fears over possible future attacks.
The wall, he said, is Israeli-designed and can withstand a car bomb attack.
“The expertise which was needed for the wall wasn’t found in Australia, we went to Israel."
While he said he was "thankful" for the fact that Australian society was by-and-large very tolerant of minorities, he added that he was nevertheless not willing "to be complacent or irresponsible when dealing with young people’s lives."
"When there is a climate which is intense, where people are agitated and doing silly things in other parts of the world, there is a tendency for people to watch and copycat," he said.
But he cautioned that those concerns were not a reason to panic. "Does that mean that every time something happens we’re not safe? Not necessarily."