Chair rabbi threw at Colleyville synagogue terrorist goes to Jewish history museum

The chair, along with the cup the rabbi used to serve the attacker tea before being taken hostage, will star in an exhibit on antisemitism in America.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

The chair that the rabbi in Colleyville, Texas, threw at the terrorist who took him and others hostage in January is going to a museum as part of a spring exhibit on modern-day antisemitism in America.

Also going on display is the cup that Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker of Congregation Beth Israel used to serve Malik Faisal Akram tea during Saturday morning services before the British Muslim extremist turned on him and three congregants.

The items will be shown in the Weitzman National Museum of American Jewish History, a Smithsonian-affiliated museum in Philadelphia that bills itself as the only one in the world “dedicated to preserving, interpreting, and celebrating the stories of American Jews.”

“‘The Cup and The Chair’ are not only artifacts that document a historic event but are symbolic of fundamental Jewish values: ‘Welcoming strangers’ and ‘Redeeming captives,’” museum president and CEO Misha Galperin explained to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA) in an email.

“They also represent the basic American ideals of embracing newcomers and bravery in the face of danger,” he added. “This is what Jewish Americans aspire to be and what the Weitzman Museum aspires to represent.”

The items will be accompanied by a video interview with all four hostages. One was freed earlier in the 11-hour standoff with Akram, who was demanding the release from federal prison of a Pakistani neuroscientist known as “Lady Al-Qaeda.”

The others escaped after Cytron-Walker slung the chair at the terrorist, distracting him so that he and his congregants could escape through a side door. The FBI then entered the premises and shot Akram dead.

“We look forward to a time when future generations will not endure this antisemitic hatred,” the synagogue’s board of directors said in its statement announcing the donation. “The Weitzman Museum will play a large part in allowing the public to visit and learn as well as protect religious freedoms for Jews in America and worldwide.”

The antisemitic incident shook the Jewish community in the United States. While Cytron-Walker had willingly opened the door to his eventual assailant, he acknowledged the security training, thanks to which he knew how to act during the ordeal.

This type of training is included in federal funding of security for nonprofit institutions such as houses of worship, which is being increased this year to some $500 million.

The chair and cup will be joining such historical artifacts as Albert Einstein’s pipe, Irving Berlin’s piano and Steven Spielberg’s first camera, which represent much happier aspects of the American Jewish experience.