Beloved Jerusalem book exchange set on fire, books destroyed

"Burnt books conjure up such dark times in our collective history. Disturbing."

Fire destroys book exchange at Jerusalem's Park Hamesila in Baka, Jerusalem, October 24, 2020. (photo credit: PLUS61J MEDIA)
Fire destroys book exchange at Jerusalem's Park Hamesila in Baka, Jerusalem, October 24, 2020.
(photo credit: PLUS61J MEDIA)
A beloved free book exchange in Jerusalem partially burned down on Shabbat, with many books on its shelving units destroyed in the process.
Jerusalem Mayor Moshe Lion said in a statement that the city will renovate the station and add books to it in coming days, "but the disappointment from the incident will not be forgotten so quickly."
The book exchange, located off the First Station train tracks in Baka, is one of a hundred located in communities throughout Israel. Some are located in bus stops and others are standalone, and serve as a location for residents to either deposit unwanted books or take home any free book of their choice.
The importance of the book exchange centers has grown amid the coronavirus outbreak in Israel with communal libraries being shuttered.
The incident at the Baka exchange appears to be arson, however that has not yet officially been confirmed by authorities. Nevertheless, the incident devastated many in the community.


Fire destroys popular reading station at Jerusalem's Park Hamesila
Posted by Plus61J Media on Saturday, 24 October 2020
Many Baka residents who are members of the community Facebook group 'Secret Jerusalem' shared photos in response to a post in the group, as others commented on the impact the incident has on the community. The original post was shared in the Facebook group 'Plus61J Media' which describes itself as an "Australian publication based on Jewish, humanitarian and democratic values."
"These pictures make me so sad. It was such a wonderful resource for the community," one Facebook user commented.
Another said that she and her kids "love going there to exchange books," and called the incident "awful."
Police were seen at the station on Saturday afternoon. The majority of the comments noted that many cameras exist in the area, and they hope that the alleged arsonists are captured.
Meanwhile, some commented on the impact that the action of burning books has.
"Burnt books conjure up such dark times in our collective history. Disturbing," one user wrote.
Another commented, "those who burn books burn free thought."
"Those who burn books burn free thought," one Facebook used commeted. (Plus61J Media)"Those who burn books burn free thought," one Facebook used commeted. (Plus61J Media)