October 20, 2019

Jewish Groups React to Germany Synagogue Shooting on Yom Kippur

HALLE, GERMANY - OCTOBER 10: People mourn in front of the entrance to the Jewish synagogue on October 10, 2019 in Halle, Germany. Law enforcement authorities, after initially speaking of multiple attackers, are now referring to a single attacker who has been apprehended. A video, apparently streamed by the attacker live and with commentary from the shooting spree, shows him attempt and fail to force his way into the synagogue in Halle. He then, using what he describes as an improvised weapon, shoots a woman happening to pass by his car on the street and drives to a nearby kebab shop, where he shoots a man inside several times. Afterwards he fires at police blocking a street ahead of him, only to be wounded by returned fire. Towards the end of the video he states that he is bleeding and that he has been shot, and calls himself a ìcomplete loserî in an apparent apology to his perceived audience for not delivering the ìactionî he had anticipated. According to media reports the attacker has been identified as 27-year-old Stephan B. (Photo by Jens Schlueter/Getty Images)

Myriad Jewish groups have condemned the Oct. 9 shooting near a synagogue in Halle, Germany, on Yom Kippur, resulting in the deaths of two people.

The suspected gunman, who German Justice Minister Christine Lambrecht has identified as 27-year-old Stephan Balliet, posted a live stream on Amazon’s Twitch platform in which he could be seen attempting to enter the synagogue. He shot at the lock at the door and lit an explosive on it, but the door remained closed, barring the suspect from entering. Authorities said the suspect shot and killed a woman outside the synagogue as well as a man inside a nearby kebab shop.

Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt tweeted, “On the holiest day of the year for Jewish people, a synagogue was attacked in Halle, Germany. This is both heartbreaking & enraging. We mourn the two victims & vow to continue to fight this hate.”

The American Jewish Committee is urging people to sign a message that reads, “We, the undersigned, express our full solidarity with Germany and its Jewish community at this difficult time. We fervently pray for the victims and their families and the Halle, Germany, Jewish community. This assault should become a wakeup call for Germany to the dangers of rising Jew hatred. German authorities must do more to combat the scourge of anti-Semitism.”

The Simon Wiesenthal Center noted in an Oct. 9 tweet that the shooting comes shortly after German police on Oct. 8 released a “knife-wielding Muslim [who was] stopped from [allegedly] attacking [a] Berlin synagogue Friday night.” “Germany must move beyond words: hold Jew-haters accountable or community won’t survive,” the Wiesenthal Center tweeted.

StandWithUs CEO and Co-Founder Roz Rothstein similarly said in a statement that the shooting was “reprehensible” and that “German police believe this was an act of far-right terrorism, reminding us once again that our governments and societies must do much more to fight back against this rising and increasingly deadly form of anti-Semitism.”

Germany’s Central Council of Jews President Josef Schuster questioned why there wasn’t a police presence at the synagogue, telling the German public radio station Deutschlandfunk, “If police had been stationed outside the synagogue, then this man could have been disarmed before he could attack the others.”

Hillel International announced in an Oct. 10 statement that 20 participants and three professionals from Hillel’s Berlin Base program were in the synagogue at the time of the shooting; none of them was injured.

“We are immensely proud of our Hillel Germany staff and participants and their courage in responding as the events unfolded, leading the community in closing prayers of Yom Kippur in the hospital cafeteria as they were evaluated after being led out of the synagogue,” Hillel International Interim CEO Adam Lehman said. “Our team at Hillel International remains in regular contact with our colleagues in Berlin and continues to offer them support and resources as they ensure the physical and emotional well-being of the students involved and their broader community.”