Rabbi Hillel Hayyim Lavery-Yisraeli
Rabbi Hillel Hayyim Lavery-Yisraeli Courtesy

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 Muslim immigrant.

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.

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