Local and national Jewish leaders are responding to the Jan. 12 desecration of a Memphis Torah in Jackson, Tenn., by organizing a Feb. 11 community discussion to reflect on the anti-Semitic attack.
The discussion will be led by Rabbi Dr. Gil Perl, Dean of Margolin Hebrew Academy. He will be joined by Rachel Shankman, Executive Director of Facing History and Ourselves, and Rabbi Abraham Cooper, Associate Dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles.
Perl and 45 students from Margolin Academy were on a field trip to Gatlinburg when they stopped in Jackson to observe the Sabbath. The next morning, they found their Torah and several prayer books defaced by anti-Semitic words and phrases.
Police in Jackson charged a 24-year-old hotel security guard with felony vandalism in the incident. A hearing on the matter was postponed Thursday.
“Tragically, two thirds of all hate crimes in America linked to a religion target Jews,” Cooper said in a statement. “The Simon Wiesenthal Center joins with the entire community in Memphis in commending the Margolin Hebrew Academy for transforming the deep wound of a Torah desecration into a time of rededication and hope.”
Participants at the Feb. 11 event will hear from a Margolin Academy student who was on the field trip. They also will view the film “Not In Our Town,” a documentary about a Montana town’s response to hate crime.
The event will begin at 7 p.m. Feb. 11 at Baron Hirsch Congregation, 400 S Yates Rd.