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Swastikas Drawn On Chabad Center At The Movement’s Birthplace

(JTA) — Unidentified individuals wrote anti-Semitic slogans on the fence of a Jewish cultural center in the Russian village of Lyubavichi, the cradle of the Chabad hassidic movement.

The inscriptions, reading “Jews out of Russia, our land” and featuring the Baltic variant of the swastika, were spray-painted on the wall of the Hatzer Raboteinu Nesieinu Belubavitch last week but reported in Russian-language media Tuesday, the news site Cursor reported.

The incident occurred amid preparations for a major international event due to be held in Lyubavichi on Sunday. Police are looking for suspects, according to Gavriel Gordon, a Chabad rabbi tasked with preserving the movement’s heritage sites in what used to be its center over a century.

Situated near Smolensk and the border with Belarus, Lyubavichi became a major Jewish hub following the settling there in 1813 of Rabbi Dovber Schneuri, a leader of the Chabad movement of Haredi Orthodox Jews. By 1857, Lyubavichi was a large Jewish toen, or shtetl, with 2,500 residents. But most left during the Communist Revolution of 1917. Those who remained were murdered in the Holocaust.

The European Jewish Cemeteries Initiative and Chabad plan to unveil the new fencing and preservation project at the Jewish cemetery in Lyubavichi, where several Chabad sages are buried.

Alyssa Fisher is a news writer at the Forward. Email her at fisher@forward.com, or follow her on Twitter at @alyssalfisher

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