The Jewish community across Europe has been shaken to its core after a far-right gunman murdered two people following a failed attempt to massacre a Yom Kippur service in a Halle synagogue, but stood in defiance as 150 people turned out for the vigil.
Among those attending was H.E. Martin Kotthaus, the Ambassador of the Federal Republic of Germany to Belgium, emphatically declared Germany’s support for its Jewish community and said that Jews are a vital and integral component of German society.
People of all generations, Jewish and non-Jewish alike, present at the vigil have united to send a strong message that the ascendant far-right poses a grave threat to our human rights and the democratic values we cherish.
The horrors of Halle serve as a stark reminder that the far-right must be fought in communities, on the streets, and in Parliaments, and their philosophy of hatred and division cannot be legitimised.
The vigil also highlighted the strength and resilience of the European Jewish community, as it prevails in celebrating its identity, living without fear, and advocating for a more peaceful world for all.
Commenting, EUJS and JSUD (German Union of Jewish Students) Board Member Ruben Gerczikow said:
“Moments after the people in the synagogue realised what had happened, they tried to continue to focus on their prayer, looking at the beauty of Judaism rather than the hatred of antisemitism.
Even in this dark hour, the Jewish people continued to focus on their prayer.”
The newly elected EUJS President, Bini Guttmann, reiterated the role that young Jews play in tackling hatred and building stronger Jewish communities. In an impassioned speech at the vigil, he said:
“It is Jewish students who are standing at the frontlines of that fight – whether they are physically guarding Jewish institutions as volunteers or are the ones who are filling Jewish communities with new life.
We, as young Jews, cannot and will not let fear win.”
He went on, emphasising the need for solidarity and called on the European community to step up its efforts to defeat the far-right:
“There is a global movement that is out to kill. Germany, Europe, the Western world have collectively ignored the dangers of the ascendant far-right. Those that looked the other way and didn’t take the threat seriously are also responsible.
We demand that Europe does better – that Europe learns. We must fight them in communities, on the streets, and in Parliaments – we have to oppose the far-right in all its forms“.