A man wearing army fatigues attacked a Jewish student, 26, outside the Hohe Weide synagogue in Hamburg on Sunday, police reported. The attack came a year after the 2019 attack on a synagogue in Halle, Germany, by an armed neo-Nazi during Yom Kippur, and another assault on a synagogue in Hamburg that same day.
According to the daily Süddeutsche Zeitung, the attacker swung a folding shovel, injuring the Jewish student before synagogue security arrived and restrained him. The attacker, 29, was arrested by the Hamburg police. He was carrying a piece of paper with a swastika in his pocket.
The victim, who was wearing a yarmulke, suffered serious head injuries and was admitted to the hospital for treatment.
German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas tweeted in response: “This is not a one-off case, this is vile anti-Semitism and we all have to stand against it.”
Chancellor Angela Merkel expressed her concern about the rise in anti-Semitism in Germany a month ago, admitting to the Central Council of Jews that “many Jews don’t feel safe and respected in our country.”
“Racism and anti-Semitism never disappeared, but for some time now they have become more visible and uninhibited,” the chancellor added, and pointed to the attack in Halle as an example of “how quickly words can become deeds.”
The German government recorded 2,032 anti-Semitic crimes last year, including the attack on the synagogue in Halle on Oct. 9.
Police said the attacker, a German with Kazakh roots, was charged with causing grievous bodily harm. He appeared to be acting alone and “extremely confused,” to the point where investigators were unable to question him.
The attack took place while the congregation was celebrating Sukkot inside the synagogue.
World Jewish Congress President Ronald S. Lauder said in a statement: “As we mark the one-year anniversary of the Yom Kippur attack in Halle, Germany, which left two dead, I am saddened to learn that once again, this time on the Jewish holiday of Sukkot, a German Jewish community is confronting a violent, anti-Semitic act of terror.”
“We must ask ourselves, and German local and national authorities must address the question – why does this keep happening? Why is anti-Semitism thriving, and why does anyone believe there is room for such hate?” Lauder added. “Our young people must not learn from those who hate. The German government must take responsibility in strengthening education so that the next generation understands that hatred of any kind is never permissible. The long-term viability of Jewish life in Germany depends on it.”
The late great Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai already gave a satisfying explanation to that one: It is a known thing that Esau hates Jacob. Anti-Semitism is part of nature, like the trees and the rain and the rising sun. Gentiles hate Jews because we’re there. Consequently, German Jews can go a long way towards terminating those ever-mounting anti-Semitic attacks by not being there anymore – come home, folks. It’s not me saying this, it’s our sages of blessed memory.
The German Orthodox Rabbinical Conference (ORD) described Sunday’s attack as “another shock to the Jewish community in Germany.” Absolutely, anti-Semitic attacks – in Germany? It defies the imagination.
“It is unbearable to see hatred and violence against Jews erupt again and again on German streets, and this comes during the holiest Jewish holidays and one year after the terrible attack in Halle,” said ORD chairman Avichai Apel on Sunday.
“Jewish life as a whole must be better protected in this country,” and demanded that German society “take even more decisive action against hate and incitement on the internet, against right-wing extremist agitators, against the Neo-Nazi scene and crude conspiracy theorists, and do more for prevention, education and the promotion of civic courage,” Apel added.
Also, while you’re at it, please do something about those hot summers, make them a little cooler. And please, no rain on weekends after Memorial Day.