There was a palpable sense of relief when a suspicious-looking powder that accompanied two hateful notes left at Chabad of Oxford was identified as harmless talcum powder.

Chabad of Oxford is a hub of Jewish life at the University of Oxford in England, providing students with kosher food, Shabbat celebrations, prayer services, a city-center student center, as well as a mikvah, nursery and more. It is particularly well-known for its acclaimed lecture series, which attracts world-class academics and personalities who present on a wide range of Jewish topics (www.oxfordjewishlectures.com).

“The powder that was left today was not part of a trend,” Rabbi Eli Brackman, who co-directs Chabad of Oxford with his wife, Freida, since 2001, told Chabad.org. “While the notes tell us that the perpetrators were clearly acting out of anti-Semitism, all indicators, including video footage, indicate that it was an isolated incident.”

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The incident drew widespread condemnation from the university and the community. Oxford West and Abingdon MP Layla Moran, a Member of Parliament representing Oxford, said: “It is shocking and deeply distressing to hear reports of an attack on the Oxford Jewish Centre. I wholly condemn this attack; we cannot tolerate anti-Semitism of any kind in Oxford.”

The powder was initially discovered over the holiday of Shavuot, together with the hateful notes, which had been left on the vehicle gate.

The rabbi reports that local police took the matter seriously, cordoning off the street and cautiously investigating until they determined that the powder, which had been left in the front of the property, turned out to be harmless.

“This incident,” says the rabbi, “will no doubt inspire Oxford Chabad to only increase in providing for the needs of the Jewish community at Oxford.”

A note left by anti-Semitic vandals.
A note left by anti-Semitic vandals.