British Jewish groups have reacted with shock after a heavily armed assailant tried to force his way into a synagogue in Germany on Yom Kippur then shot two people to death nearby in an attack livestreamed on a popular gaming site.
The attacker shot a woman in the street after failing to enter the synagogue and entered a nearby kebab shop where he killed another person before fleeing. He said before the shooting that Jews were “the root” of “problems” such as feminism and “mass immigration”, according to a group that tracks online extremism.
Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis tweeted: “The tragic reality is that wherever there are Jews, hatred is never far away and I would like to pay tribute to all those who routinely place themselves in harm’s way to protect Jewish communities all over the world.
“Our hearts go out to the victims and their families. May their memory be for a blessing,” he added.
Board of Deputies President Marie van der Zyl deplored the “far-right motivated murder perpetrated on Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the year for Jews, against innocent worshippers as well as diners in a kebab restaurant.”
“Our thoughts and prayers go out to the families of both victims and everyone in Germany affected by these brutal killings,” she added.
Simon Johnson, chief executive of the Jewish Leadership Council, lamented the “tragic loss of life” and extended his gratitude to security organisations such as the Community Security Trust (CST) that “worked so hard today to keep our community safe.”
The CST expressed its “deepest sympathy” to the families, friends and communities “of those murdered and injured in today’s far right terror attack in Halle, Germany, against a synagogue during Yom Kippur service and then a kebab shop.”
“Today’s tragic events in Halle, Germany, further confirm the need for places of worship to have strong doors, reinforced windows and proper security measures. CST will continue working with our UK Jewish community and others, to ensure this is the case,” the CST added.
John Mann, the Government’s new antisemitism tsar, said his “thoughts are with the Jewish Community in this country and especially those who live in Germany.”
“This isn’t an isolated incident and the number of antisemitic murders have grown significantly across Europe over the last three years,” he added.
“Whenever a Jewish person feels unsafe and vulnerable as they make their way to the synagogue or carrying out their daily it’s for us to stand with them and call out the racists, root out the extremists and use all the necessary powers to stop the terrorists.”
The representative group for European Jewry said the attack should “send shock waves in Germany and beyond” and that more needs to be done to combat radicalisation.
“We need to do more to guarantee these types of attacks do not happen again, by combatting radicalisation, creating tougher law enforcement measures and putting more resources into educating towards tolerance,” said the European Jewish Congress President Dr. Moshe Kantor.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of those killed and wishing the injured a speedy recovery,” Dr Moshe added.
Jewish Agency Chairman Isaac Herzog said the “entire world sees and hears what is happening and must understand that there can be no compromise in the fight against hatred of Jews and antisemitism.”
“We share in the mourning of the families whose loved ones were murdered, wish the wounded a speedy recovery and send strength to the worshippers and members of the community who are in deep mourning,” he added.
Some of the community’s largest denominations joined the chorus, expressing solidarity with the victims and their families yesterday evening.
United Synagogue’s Rabbi Nicky Liss said: “Attacking Jews at prayer is an act of despicable cruelty and cowardice, and particularly shocking on Yom Kippur.
“We wish chayim aruchim (long life) to the families of those murdered in Halle and pray for a speedy recovery for the injured.”
The Reform Movement’s senior Rabbi Janner-Klausner called for action, tweeted on Wednesday evening: “Our newly replenished hearts, minds and souls after Yom Kippur ache in solidarity with our brothers and sisters in #Halle.
“It’s time to replace incendiary language with careful words, hatred with love and fear with safety. Now is the time. Now is the time.”
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