Bangkok Jewish community on high alert, but still maintaining a brave face

The head of Chabad Bangkok says "the best way to send the darkness away is with light."

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August 18, 2015 21:22
1 minute read.

Bangkok Jewish community on high alert, but still maintaining a brave face

Bangkok Jewish community on high alert, but still maintaining a brave face

Tensions are high in Bangkok after a bomb killed 22 people on Monday night, in the heart of a city that is extremely popular with Israeli tourists.

But Rabbi Nechemya Wilhelm, director of Chabad Bangkok, kept a brave face.

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Following the attack, he said his Chabad House immediately became a place of refuge for Israelis and tourists, especially since it has telephones with free calls to Israel and the United States. Just as worried parents from Israel called in, travelers were calling home to reassure those abroad of their safety.

Though there were a number of Israelis in the area at the time of the blast, none were hurt, he said.

Wilhelm said that after the attack members of police and the Thai military visited the Chabad House several times to ensure that everyone was okay.

He emphasized, though, that all Chabad houses throughout Thailand are guarded 24/7 by both local police and Israeli security guards.

Thai authorities on Tuesday were still looking for a suspect seen on closed-circuit television footage near the popular shrine where the bomb detonated.

The Thai government said the attack, during rush hour in the capital’s bustling commercial hub, was aimed at destroying Thailand’s economy. No one has claimed responsibility for the attack.

“There were many visits from the army and from police [after the explosion] to make sure that we were okay,” Wilhelm said. “They understand that a place with so many Jews could be targeted.”

“We were sent by the Lubavitcher Rebbe and he always told us that the best way to send the darkness away is with light... bringing the Jewish spark to light up the darkness.”

Wilhelm recommended that tourists stay away from crowded areas for the next few days, though he quipped that “maybe it’s not so relevant because everywhere in Thailand is crowded, especially this time of year.

“Still, there are big shopping malls or the big centers where I would say, maybe wait a day or two to see that we are after the shock, then go on as normal,” he said.

Reuters contributed to this report.


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