Attack at German Synagogue During Sukkot Raises Anti-Semitism Fears

October 5, 2020

BERLIN — A man wearing army fatigues and wielding a shovel attacked and badly injured a Jewish student coming out of a synagogue in Hamburg on Sunday, less than a year after an assault on a synagogue in the eastern city of Halle turned deadly.

Security guards and police officers deployed to the Hamburg synagogue, where people were marking the Jewish holiday of Sukkot, swiftly subdued and arrested a 29-year-old man, whose name the authorities did not disclose. The suspect was carrying a piece of paper with a swastika in his pocket, the German news agency DPA reported.

The 26-year-old victim, who was wearing a kipa, or skullcap, when he was attacked, suffered grave head wounds and was taken to a hospital, the police said.

“This is not a one-off case, this is vile anti-Semitism and we all have to stand against it,” the German foreign minister, Heiko Maas, wrote on Twitter.

Germany has seen the number of anti-Semitic crimes nearly double in the past three years. Last year alone, the government recorded 2,032 anti-Semitic crimes, culminating in the attack on the synagogue in Halle on Oct. 9. In that attack, a gunman tried and failed to force his way in during services for Yom Kippur, the holiest day on the Jewish calendar, and then killed two people elsewhere.

The man arrested in Halle, Stephan Balliet, 28, is currently facing trial and has spoken openly in court about his hatred not only of Jews but also of Muslims and foreigners, and of being influenced by a far-right extremist attack against two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, that killed 51 people last year

Last month, Chancellor Angela Merkel expressed her concern about the rise in anti-Semitism in Germany, warning in a speech to the Central Council of Jews that it is a reality “that many Jews don’t feel safe and respected in our country.”

“Racism and anti-Semitism never disappeared, but for some time now they have become more visible and uninhibited,” the chancellor said, citing the attack in Halle as an example of “how quickly words can become deeds.”

In Halle a year ago, the congregation inside the synagogue only narrowly escaped a massacre. The door of the synagogue had been locked and withstood the clumsily built explosives meant to blow it open. In his rage the gunman later trained his weapon on other random targets in the city.

Following Sunday’s attack, Jewish organizations in Germany and beyond urged the government to increase protection and focus on long-term strategies to stamp out anti-Semitism.

“I am saddened to learn that once again, this time on the Jewish holiday of Sukkot, a German Jewish community is confronting a violent, anti-Semitic act of terror,” Ronald S. Lauder, president of the World Jewish Congress, said in a statement. “We must ask ourselves, and German local and national authorities must address the question — why does this keep happening? Why is anti-Semitism thriving?”

“The German government must take responsibility in strengthening education so that the next generation understands that hatred of any kind is never permissible,” Mr. Lauder added. “The long-term viability of Jewish life in Germany depends on it.”

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A new memorial tombstone on a mass grave of Jews in the City of Sadigora, Ukraine

The Rabbinical Center of Europe (RCE) has unveiled yesterday morning a memorial tombstone on a mass grave of  the Jewish community of the City of Sadigora in Ukraine, that were slaughtered in 1941 by gangs of Ukrainians and Romanians that were granted “24 hours to do what they wanted with the Jews” by the Russian Command
“We played together – all of the children and suddenly our Jewish friends began to disappear"
RCE General Director, Rabbi Arye Goldberg:
“We are in the midst of an extensive operation to detect and establish tombstones on other mass graves of Jews who were slaughtered in Ukraine”
Israel's ambassador to Ukraine, Joel Leon:
I call upon the new President of the Ukraine and Members of the Rada (parliament of Ukrain to adopt the Anti-Semitic definitions of the IHRA
Thursday, July 25, 2019, Ukraine, The Jews of Sagura in southern Ukraine, near the border with Romania and Moldova, thought that the Russian army's victory over the German Nazi army during the fighting in the region in July 1941,  was the end of the war, and the end of the attacks on them by the Romanian Army who controlled the area and cooperated with the Nazis.
However, the Russian command allowed local Ukrainian and Romanian gangs a “24-hour window to do with the Jews as they will”. The relief sensations of the Jewish community of the region became a murderous nightmare: “We played together – all of the children and suddenly our Jewish friends began to disappear one by one" said this morning in a trembling voice, an elderly Ukrainian woman who was present at the time of the acts during the unveiling ceremony of the tombstone established by the  Rabbinical Center of Europe over the mass grave in which , about 1,200 Jewish children women and men were murdered and burried – some of them when they were still alive.
The mass grave and the hidden testimonies were found in part by Rabbi Mendi Glitzinstein of the nearby city of Chernivtsi who harnessed the RCE in order to establish a headstone on the mass grave. The unveiling ceremony that took place this morning, saw the distinguished presence of the district’s Governor, Eiom Vasilovitz, , Israel's ambassador to Ukraine, Joel Leon, RCE General Director, Rabbi Arye Goldberg, Chief Rabbi of the nearby Jewish Community of Jetimore and Western Ukraine, Rabbi Shlomo Wilhelm, members of the small Jewish community who survived  the massacre and Ukrainian neighbors, some of whom testified how they could feel the “earth burning underneath their feet” even days after the terrible massacre took place.
RCE General Director, Rabbi Arye Goldberg, said during the ceremony that the Rabbinical Center of Europe,  and its over  700 rabbi Members across the continent,  took this very important mission upon itself  and is now in the midst of an extensive operation of  locating and establishing tombstones on other Jewish mass Graves in the Ukraine. “We collect evidence and testimonies as much as possible from elderly Jews and Ukrainians who still remember. We than locate the mass graves and only after a team of experts confirms the findings, we establish tombstones for the memory of the victims."
RCE and EJA Chairman, Rabbi Menachem Margolin, made it clear that the special activity for locating and establishing tombstones on the tombs of the victims was held in parallel with the effort to further and renew Jewish life throughout the Ukraine, as well as the restoration of synagogues and mikvehs.
Israel's ambassador to Ukraine, Joel Leon who carried the Kaddish prayer in the ceremony, thanked the RCE for the initiative and its implementation in the field, and said that the embassy was conducting a special program for training Ukrainian teachers on how to teach the  lessons of the Holocaust in schools throughout the country. I call upon the new President of the Ukraine and Members of the Rada (parliament of Ukrain to adopt the Anti-Semitic definitions of the IHRA
 

 

COVID Diary- Reflections from Our Advisory Board Member Rabbi Binyomin Jacobs

Every Day during the Corona crisis our Advisory Board Member Chief Rabbi Binyomin Jacobs (NL) writes a diary, on request of the Jewish Cultural Quarter in Amsterdam, which is published on the website of the NIW, the only Jewish Dutch Magazine. Rabbi Jacobs is the head of Inter Governmental Relationships at the Rabbinical Centre of Europe. We will be regularly publishing a selection of his informative, sometimes light hearted, but always wise pieces.

For our Dutch readers you can follow the diary every day at NIW home page: https://niw.nl
Column NIW 38 GB
Sara wants to tell her husband something positive and something negative. What do you want to hear first, she asks him? Start with the good news, her husband replied. Well, Sara enthuses, your Lexus'airbags worked very well. After two weeks holiday of writing my diary, I also have something positive and something negative to say. I'll start with the negative. I had to go to England for a few days. The reason why is irrelevant, but I want to share the corona bombardment surrounding this trip. The ferry ticket was easily booked, but then the test circus started. I checked online which test is required to cross the sea. €130 PCR. Afterwards, the test of €39 turned out to be sufficient. I had to be at the test site at 11:05 am, preferable not earlier. I was there at 11:04, but had to queue until 12:15! Two days later, after lengthy paper statements about testing, whereabouts and quarantine, I was in London. Four times a day I got a call from the local authority asking how I was feeling and where I was. They also send inspectors to check us at the door every other day. And then back home again. I expected the return journey to be easy as I am Dutch and fully vaccinated. Mais non! I was bombed by text, WhatsApp and email by the Ferry company. I had to have an urgent reason, which officially falls under the exceptions, to be allowed to return home. My full vaccination was not recognized as I am entering Holland from England and I had to have a negative PCR test less than 24 hours old. The latter was a difficult one, because my ferry left at 11 p.m. So, I could only go to a test location the next morning, on the day of departure, but I would receive the results after 24 hours, not earlier. I was quite upset about it. It seemed like mission impossible. After a few days in England and five tests with negative results, I was back in Holland. At the border I was kindly welcomed by our Royal Military Police. I just had to show my ID. No test results and not even my app showing that I'm vaccinated. That friendly "welcome back to the Netherlands and have a nice" made me forget all threatening emails, text messages and WhatsApp’s in no time and therefore my quarantine after returning passed without any emotional problems. Which shows the importance of a few kind and
friendly words!

Chief Rabbi Jacobs- Our New Head of Committe for combatting Antisemitism

We at the EJA are proud to announce that Chief Rabbi Binyomin Jacobs has accepted our invitation to head up our Committee for Combatting Antisemitism.
As Chairman of the Committee, Rabbi Jacobs will be our roving ambassador, working with other local EJA committee co-ordinators across the continent, identifying the local issues and the challenges relating to antisemitism faced by communities and advocating at the highest levels of government, both at a bilateral and EU institutional level, to find solutions and enact changes to safeguard Jewish life and practice in Europe.
The EJA places this fight at the top of our agenda. Such an important issue requires a person who is respected, who has gravitas, and who understands the mechanisms and personalities involved in the political process, as well having a forensic and thorough knowledge of the Jewish issues at hand.
So, when we envisaged the creation of this Committee, the natural and obvious choice was Rabbi Jacobs to Chair it.  We have long admired his skill in advocacy in his native Holland at Eerste and Tweede Kamer’s in the Hague and at local Dutch administrative level.
We are delighted to share this important appointment with you and we look forward to sharing news with you about the Committees actions and outcomes in the near future.

Red Lines Follow-Up, The Netherlands

EJA board member chief rabbi Jacobs, Shoah survivor Rabbi Vorst and EJA Director of public affairs Alex Benjamin met with fractie head of Dutch political party Christen Unie MP Segers and MP Bruins to discuss our Jewish red lines and to commend the party’s initiative to create a dedicated Dutch Parliament special envoy to combat antisemitism. We agreed to work together and lobby others to help get the proposal through the chamber. The MPs also heard moving testimony from Rabbi Vorst. As we explained to them: when a Holocaust survivor says they are worried about antisemitism in Holland, you know there’s something deeply wrong.

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