LONDON – A street brawl involving a crowd of about 20 drunken youths and two Jewish men ended up in a fierce standoff in the foyer of a Stamford Hill synagogue early Sunday.
Police said they had arrested six of the young men, and because one had made anti-Semitic statements, they were treating the attack as a racial incident.
According to local sources in Stamford Hill, which is home to one of the largest ultra-Orthodox Jewish communities in Europe, the incident started at a house in the neighborhood where a party was ending and a number of young drunken men and women spilled out onto the street, starting a fight with two Jewish men who were not religious nor wearing a kippa.
After considerable pushing and shoving, the Jewish men decided to take refuge in the entrance hall to the nearby Ahavas Torah Synagogue.
The two men reached the synagogue area of the building, seeking the help of those inside, who taking part in a communal meal.
Those inside the synagogue, having already called the police, were left alone for approximately 15 minutes to fend off repeated attempts by the youths to enter the synagogue. Those inside used parts of broken chairs and mops for protection. Other furniture was broken as the drunken troublemakers attempted to reach the two men When the police arrived, several of the assailants were reportedly chased down nearby streets until six were caught, cautioned, arrested and subsequently held in custody.
One source at the scene said a passing member of the Jewish community jumped on one of the drunks and temporarily held him until the youth’s inebriated colleagues attacked the Jewish man, knocking out a tooth that required hospital treatment.
Insp. Jonathan Waterfield said police were investigating to establish the full circumstances of the incident to identify anyone else involved in the disturbance who had not yet been arrested.
“We have also increased police patrols in the Stamford Hill area to provide reassurance to the community.”
However, the spokesman maintained that there was nothing to suggest that the attack was either a planned or specifically targeted Jews.
A Stamford Hill source said it was just a fight the community now wants “to put to bed.”
That view was shared by Ahavas Torah Synagogue Rabbi Maurice Davis who said he thought the incident was petty and anti-social rather than anti-Semitic.
Community Security Trust Communications Director Mark Gardner said they were in close touch with the local police following the events.
“It has no connection with stories last month about neo-Nazi claims on social media concerning Stamford Hill.”