On Yom Kippur this year, at a synagogue filled with worshippers in the small city of Halle, Germany, prayers were interrupted by a heavily armed gunman. He had just published a hateful manifesto online declaring his intention to kill as many Jews as possible, though he said he’d be content with killing even one Jew: “After all, if every White Man kills just one, we win.” The man showed up at the synagogue’s front door wearing a camera on his helmet to stream the massacre online.
Instead, his plans went awry. The synagogue door was locked and fortified. Even after the attacker tried to shoot his way inside, he couldn’t get in. He left in a rage. Tragically, this man would go on to murder two people down the street. Our hearts go out to the victims’ families for these senseless deaths — every bit as senseless as his planned mass murder of Jews.
Max Privorozki, the head of the congregation, told the New York Times that the building’s security ultimately saved their lives, limiting the shooter’s body count. “It was a miracle that the door held,” he said. “I cannot imagine what would have happened if it had not.’’
As it happened, the Halle synagogue had recently received those security upgrades — thanks to the actions of our Jewish communities.
Four years ago, in response to rising anti-Semitic violence in Europe, our partners at the Jewish Agency for Israel established a Security Assistance Fund to which our Jewish Federation contributed. The fund provided essential financial aid for synagogues, community centers and schools to upgrade their security systems with CCTV, alarms, locks, gates, and reinforced walls, doors and windows.
Using the fund, the Halle congregation had reinforced their heavy wooden door and installed an electronic security system. The precautions meant that during the Yom Kippur attack, congregation leaders spotted the gunman on the security camera monitor, kept the door locked and instructed the 80 worshippers to remain inside. And because of you and your support of our Jewish Federation, on that frightening day in Halle, Germany, 80 Jews who had been targeted for murder were kept safe and unharmed.
At the Jewish Federation, we help keep our communities safe through security upgrades, trainings and assessments; Holocaust education; interfaith partnerships; advocacy for stronger hate crimes legislation; information-sharing and more — a multipronged approach that can make all the difference. Help keep our communities secure. Donate to our Jewish Federation today.