Thursday, December 26, 2019

Holland: To stay safe, Dutch synagogue operates by invitation only

Via Politico:
Amid a surge of anti-Semitic attacks across Europe, Groningen’s Jewish community is keeping a low profile.

Every other week, as the Jewish holiday of Shabbat approaches in the Dutch city of Groningen, another, more mundane ritual takes place. A group of self-appointed volunteers begin calling around and texting friends on WhatsApp.

They are confirming the attendance of fellow members of the Jewish community at that week’s Saturday morning service.

Amid growing fears of violent anti-Semitism following several attacks on Jewish institutions across Europe, the Groningen synagogue — like many others — now operates behind fortified defenses, and in a nearly covert fashion.

The community has an emergency plan in case of an attack, and local police keep watch on site during services. It doesn’t publish details of its services, and relies on worshippers to keep each other informed of the schedule and muster up attendance in private chat groups and over the phone. Members are trained to vet visitors at the entrance.

For an outsider, the congregation has become easy to overlook — and that’s, partly, the point.

Alec Farber, 18, who moved to Groningen to study from New York, missed a number of holy days before he realized a congregation existed. He finally gained entry to a service after making friends with other Jewish students. He had to bring identification, and flag his arrival in advance.

"It was actively difficult," Farber said of the process. Back in the United States, he said, "my synagogue posts every service on its website.”

For many, the difficult logistics are a small price to pay to keep the congregation safe from the type of violent attacks that have devastated other Jewish communities in recent years. […]

The incident in Halle is a turning point, warned David Gurov, a 20-year-old student originally from Cologne, whose friend was barricaded in the German synagogue as the gunman tried to force his way in.

"History is getting forgotten,” he said. “And the layer that was holding back anti-Semitism from growing has been breached."
read more

No comments :

Post a Comment