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After their synagogue is vandalized, Porto Jews brace for antisemitism during Israel-Hamas war

(JTA) — Gabriel Senderowicz woke up on Wednesday to see his synagogue in Portugal’s small coastal city of Porto was vandalized overnight.

Black graffiti scrawled over the white gate to the Kadoorie Mekor Haim Synagogue read “Free Palestine” and “End Israel Apartheid.” The largest synagogue on the Iberian Peninsula and among the largest in Europe, Kadoorie serves a tight-knit community of about 1,000 Porto Jews, including many with familial ties to Israel. The graffiti was removed the same day and no arrest has been made.

Porto has braced for flaring tensions as the brutal and rapidly escalating Israel-Hamas war splits communities around the world. Since Hamas militants rampaged Israeli towns on Saturday, more than 1,400 Israelis and nearly 2,700 Palestinians have been killed. Israel declared a complete siege on the enclave and hundreds of thousands have fled south ahead of an expected ground invasion.

European leaders have increased security around synagogues and Jewish neighborhoods to prepare for antisemitic threats in the wake of the conflict. A spate of incidents last week across the globe included a vandalism campaign that marked Stars of David on apartment buildings where Jews lived in Berlin and a rally in Australia that included “gas the Jews” chants.

Senderowicz, who is president of the Jewish Community of Porto, told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency that many Porto Jews anticipate becoming the most prominent target for antisemitism in their country. The community has visibly flourished in recent years, growing from about 40 Jews in 2012 to roughly 1,000 today. Though Porto and Lisbon have similarly-sized Jewish populations, Porto has the largest synagogue and more Jewish institutions, including a Jewish museum, a Holocaust Museum and several kosher restaurants.

Senderowicz said he was not surprised by the appearance of graffiti on his synagogue. He expected some form of retaliation after a vigil for victims of the Hamas attack the previous night, which drew about 400 people to Porto’s city hall. The building was illuminated in the colors of the Israeli flag.

The synagogue was also vandalized in 2021 by a left-wing German group that accused Porto Jews of being “fascists.”

For many members of the community, the Hamas assault hit close to home. One Israeli resident of Porto had a niece at the Tribe of Nova music festival near the Gaza Strip, where she was among the 260 people murdered by Hamas gunmen. Another Israeli who lives in Porto was called in for reserve duty, leaving his wife and children behind. Senderowicz himself has a cousin and an uncle currently serving in the Israeli army.

After discovering the graffiti on Wednesday, Senderowicz met with representatives of the city’s Catholic and Muslim communities about protecting against violence.

“We met in the city hall to make sure that the relationship between our communities is safe, it’s solid,” he told JTA. “This doesn’t have consequences for our relationship.”

Nonetheless, the community is prepared for a spike in antisemitic threats. Porto police have reinforced their presence around the synagogue and other Jewish institutions, while Jewish leaders are avoiding in-person events. Senderowicz canceled attending a conference in Zagreb this week, both for security reasons and to support the Jews in his city.

The post After their synagogue is vandalized, Porto Jews brace for antisemitism during Israel-Hamas war appeared first on Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

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Online Live Chat Service for Jews to Connect With Rabbis Sees 300% Increase Since Oct. 7 Attacks

A protester wrapped in an Israeli flag at a rally against antisemitism at the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin. Photo: Reuters/Lisi Niesner

A live web service provided by that allows users to speak directly with one of the Jewish organization’s leading rabbis has seen a 300 percent increase in usage since the Oct. 7 Hamas terrorist attacks in Israel.

More than 5,000 chat responses (over 225 per day) are received each month, according to Aish, which added in a press release that many of the chats turn into extended conversations, sometimes on WhatsApp, in which rabbis help unaffiliated or disconnected Jewish users reconnect with their Jewish identities and form bonds with other Jews.

The Jewish organization said it believes the increase in usage of its live web chat service is due to the global rise in antisemitism and a newfound curiosity about Israel following Oct. 7, as well as a “yearning for meaning and community in the face of life’s uncertainties, and a desire for deeper meaning and spirituality in the face of a fast-paced modern culture where spiritual needs have been put on a backburner for too long.”

“We’re hearing from so many Jews who feel profoundly disconnected, whether due to living in areas with little Jewish community or lack of affiliation growing up,” said Rabbi Tzvi Broker, who oversees‘s Live Chat. “The personal nature of these interactions, coupled with their anonymity, creates a safe space to ask questions and begin exploring. Having a live rabbi to connect and share with, has been a draw for many, and we’re seeing lives transformed as a result.”

Among their efforts, Broker and his team have helped people on the chat slowly incorporate Jewish rituals and traditions into their lives, and have connected them with peers through the organization’s new online community Aish+ so they can continue learning and engaging with other Jews.

“It’s amazing to witness lives being transformed in such profound ways,” said Broker. “Jews around the world are finding threads of connection to their heritage, and tapping into the depth and wisdom of our tradition to find meaning, community, and resilience in these challenging times.”

Bob Diener, the founder of and the seed funder of’s live chat, added in a statement: “The chat has been a powerful way for people to connect one-on-one with a spiritual leader and have their unique questions answered in a non-threatening and non-intimidating way. The chat’s rabbis are connecting so many people to their roots who otherwise don’t know where to go for guidance.”

“The chats have had a deep impact on many disconnected from the Jewish community,” said Aish CEO Rabbi Steven Burg. “Each of the people we connect with demonstrates a broad yearning to explore Jewish spirituality, peoplehood, and identity and that is why they have been turning to Aish for connection and guidance. We are happy to provide both while connecting them with local Jewish communities in their area, if there is one, to continue their journey.”

The post Online Live Chat Service for Jews to Connect With Rabbis Sees 300% Increase Since Oct. 7 Attacks first appeared on

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Jerry Seinfeld Ridicules Anti-Israel Heckler Interrupting His Show in Australia: ‘You Moron, Get Out of Here’

Jerry Seinfeld attends the premiere of Netflix’s “Unfrosted” at the Egyptian Theatre in Los Angeles, California, US, April 30, 2024. Photo: REUTERS/David Swanson

Jewish comedian and actor Jerry Seinfeld roasted an anti-Israel protester who tried to disrupt his comedy show in Sydney, Australia, at the Qudos Bank Arena on Sunday night.

Videos from the scene showed a male heckler in the audience repeatedly shout, “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free,” a slogan that has been widely used as a call for the destruction of Israel.

While the disruptive audience member continued to chant in support of Israel’s extermination, Seinfeld ridiculed him, sarcastically telling the audience:  “We have a genius, ladies and gentlemen! He’s solved the Middle East! He’s solved it: It’s the Jewish comedians, that’s who we have to get! They’re the ones doing everything.”

“Go ahead, keep going,” Seinfeld told the anti-Israel heckler as the audience laughed and cheered. “They’re gonna start punching you in about three second so I would try and get all of your genius out so we can all learn from you. It’s a comedy show you moron, get out of here.”

The heckler was eventually escorted out of the arena by security personnel and as he walked out of the venue, Seinfeld mocked him some more by sarcastically saying: “You’re really influencing everyone here. We’re all on your side because you have made your point so well and in the right venue. You’ve come to the right place for a political conversation. Tomorrow we will read in the paper: ‘Middle East, 100 percent solved thanks to man at the Qudos Arena stopping Jew comedian.’ They stop him and everyone in the Middle East went, ‘Oh my god, let’s just get along.’”

The “Seinfeld” creator then jokingly suggested that to solve issues with “indigenous Aboriginal people and the white people” maybe he should harass Australian comedian Jim Jefferies during a comedy show in New York because “if this works, that will work.”

“You have to go 20,000 miles from the problem and screw up a comedian. That is how you solve world issues,” Seinfeld quipped.

Seinfeld had a number of his comedy shows recently disrupted by anti-Israel activists because of his support for Israel since the Oct. 7 terrorist attacks. Seinfeld’s commencement speech at Duke University was also interrupted by similar protesters, who staged a walk-out shortly after he was introduced on stage.

During an interview last month, Seinfeld addressed protesters by saying: “It’s so dumb. In fact, when we get protesters occasionally, I love to say to the audience, ‘You know, I love that these young people, they’re trying to get engaged with politics … we just have to correct their aim a little bit.”

The post Jerry Seinfeld Ridicules Anti-Israel Heckler Interrupting His Show in Australia: ‘You Moron, Get Out of Here’ first appeared on

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Ratted out: Phoebe Maltz Bovy on the end of feeling a need to ask if every contrived pop-culture trend is good for the Jews

As an expert (self-proclaimed) in the female heterosexual gaze, I took note of the trend of the “hot rodent man.” Does this mean you’re attracted to the friendly mascot from Orkin Exterminator Co.? Maybe you do, maybe he’s tremendous, but no, “hot rodent man” refers to what is essentially the male equivalent of jolie laide, […]

The post Ratted out: Phoebe Maltz Bovy on the end of feeling a need to ask if every contrived pop-culture trend is good for the Jews appeared first on The Canadian Jewish News.

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