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People of New Zealand Reach out to Jews After Attack on School

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The Jewish community in New Zealand has been over-whelmed by the extraordinary display of solidarity by their non-Jewish neighbors since four children were stabbed July 16 by an apparently demented woman at Auckland’s small Jewish day school.

Many Christian New Zealanders attended Sabbath services devoted to the families of the young victims, all of whom are recovering.

Moreover, a record number of inquiries have been received for enrollment at the Auckland Hebrew Kadimah lower school and kindergarten. Most of them are from non-Jews who want to show their support, according to Russell Jaffe, chairman of the school’s board of governors.

Jaffe said the incident, which sent three 6-year-olds and an 8-year-old child to the hospital, was expected to have a dampening effect on enrollments.

Instead, the response has encouraged the school board’s plan to expand next year by adding intermediate and senior high school classes, he said.

There are presently 205 children enrolled, from preschoolers to 13-year-olds. Just over half are not from within the Jewish community.

Jaffe said people in Auckland, where half of New Zealand’s 4,000 Jews live, understand that the attack did not indicate an upsurge of anti-Semitism in country. But they rallied nonetheless to demonstrate their good will after the attempted murders.

Three of the children are now back with their families and the fourth is expected to leave the hospital by the end of the week.

They suffered knife wounds in the stomach and lungs, and other cuts and lacerations, but all are expected to make a full physical recovery, Jaffe said.

He said the youngsters were receiving the best available psychological help for the traumatic effects of the attack.

Meanwhile, Pauline Janet Williamson, 52, who has been charged with the attempted murders, was ruled medically unfit to stand trial at this time. She had been due to appear in court July 23.

Williamson, who was reported to have screamed anti-Semitic epithets when she attacked the children, acted similarly during her preliminary hearing last week.

She refused legal representation on grounds that “there will be no more bloody Jews for me.”

Williamson has a history of mental illness.

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