Fire Burns Jewish School in Southern Russian Town
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Fire Burns Jewish School in Southern Russian Town

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Vandals have set fire to a Jewish school in a southern Russian city.

Several Molotov cocktails were lobbed at Nalchik State Jewish Day School No. 10 on Jan. 18. The attack did not result in any injuries, but did cause serious damage to the building.

According to Svetlana Danilova, chairman of the Jewish community in Nalchik, a group of children from the school’s Maccabi sports club were leaving the school around 9 p.m. when the building caught fire.

By the time the fire was extinguished, two classrooms had burned down, Danilova said in a phone interview from Nalchik, located in the northern Caucasus Mountains, 1,400 miles south of Moscow.

“We had never had anything like this,” Danilova said of the attack. She said the Jewish community could not think of any reason behind the attack.

Up to now the region — Kabardino-Balkar, which is located inside Russia — has been known for its relatively low level of anti-Semitism. The area’s Jews have been leaving the region in large numbers due to the poor economic conditions in the region, which is adjacent to the breakaway republic of Chechnya.

Over the past seven years, close to 10,000 Jews have left Nalchik for Israel and the United States. About 3,000 Jews still live in Nalchik.

The attack on the school, however, will “make people think harder about staying” in Nalchik, said one Jewish activist who did not want to be identified.

The school is co-sponsored by local authorities, Israel’s Education Ministry and the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee. It is located in Nalchik’s Jewish quarter and has 500 students.

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