Germany’s Jewish communities ‘hit hard’ by worst flooding in decades

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Germany’s Jewish communities ‘hit hard’ by worst flooding in decades

Services were cancelled in some synagogues as communities work to contact congregants

Michael Daventry is foreign editor of Jewish News

A car is buried by rubble in the Hohenlimburg district of Hagen, western Germany. (Photo: Julian Stratenschulte/dpa)
A car is buried by rubble in the Hohenlimburg district of Hagen, western Germany. (Photo: Julian Stratenschulte/dpa)

Jewish leaders across western Germany say their communities have been “hit hard” by some of the worst flooding to hit the country in decades.

Cities with significant Jewish populations including Wuppertal, Erftstadt and Hagen have been severely affected by floodwater, power cuts and a widespread communications failure.

Nearly 100 people have died in Germany and Belgium and many hundreds others are unaccounted for.

The German Jewish newspaper Jüdische Allgemeine said community members in the city of Hagen could not be reached on Thursday or Friday.

At the synagogue in Wuppertal, a city that saw one-tenth of its annual rainfall in a matter of days, services were cancelled on Thursday.

But community leader Leonid Goldberg said Kabbalat Shabbat services would still run on Friday evening.

He described the situation as “very bad”, with localised flooding and no public transport available.

“I don’t know how many parishioners are coming. We [will] have to be surprised,” he said.

In Düsseldorf, there were no reports of Jewish casualties, although the city’s community centre was flooded, forcing the cancellation of some classes for children.

“All in all, we got off lightly,” Jonathan Walter, co-director of the Düsseldorf Jewish Community, told Jüdische Allgemeine.

“The synagogue is on the first floor, something is dripping into the cellar. But that doesn’t affect the service. It can still take place under the current regular coronavirus conditions.”

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