Good afternoon friends:
We were horrified yesterday to hear that on Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the year for Jews, a synagogue in Halle, Germany was attacked by a right-wing extremist. Despite being armed with multiple weapons and an explosive device, the assailant was thwarted by a locked security door. A potential massacre was avoided, and no injuries were reported among the synagogue worshipers.
However, the terrorist shot and killed a woman on the street and attacked a nearby kebab restaurant, killing a second individual and wounding two others. The police later arrested the suspect. The assailant used a head mounted camera to record and post a hateful video of the attack reminiscent of the one made by the shooter at the Christchurch mosque attacks in New Zealand. We offer our heartfelt condolences to the families of the two victims and applaud German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s condemnation of the attack and attendance at a vigil outside a Berlin synagogue where she vowed to protect Germany’s Jewish community.
As antisemitism increases around the world, including in our own region, the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Washington is working year-round and investing every possible resource into efforts to secure our community institutions. We thank our local, state, and federal elected officials and law enforcement for partnering with us to address our increased vulnerability and protect the integrity and safety of our holy days and holy spaces.
Yesterday’s incident in Germany and the incidents of antisemitism that occurred at home in the U.S. highlight the importance of using available government security resources for safety training and security-related operating and capital purposes. After seeing the German assailant on their security camera, the congregants in Halle barricaded their reinforced door and were able to get to a safe place in the synagogue, providing the police with additional time to respond.
As leaders of our local Jewish community in the nation’s capital, we are resolutely committed to doing all we can to enhance security at our Jewish institutions.
We will not allow those who wish our Jewish community harm to prevent us from observing our faith and living fulfilling and meaningful Jewish lives.
Shana tova. May it be a good year and a safe year for all.
Sam and Ron
Sam Kaplan - President, JCRC Board of Directors
Ron Halber - Executive Director, JCRC