15-21 Tishrei, 5780                                                   Oct. 14-20, 2019 -- THE JEWISH OBSERVER, LOS ANGELES --  628th Web Ed.




Above the rain-soaked flowers and little lanterns left by well-wishers, the bullet holes are clearly visible in the small wooden door of the synagogue in Halle. That door was all that stood between an armed extremist and the worshippers inside the building, gathered to pray on the holiest day of the Jewish year.

Christina Feist was inside as the gunman tried - and failed - to shoot his way into the building.

"We were actually just in the middle of Shacharit, which is the morning service, reading Torah, when I heard and saw explosions and two clouds of smoke right outside the window," she said. "For a couple of seconds everyone was silent, and then all of a sudden everything went super-fast. The cantor who was leading prayer immediately understood what was going on.

"He said: 'Everyone out of here - go to the next room, go upstairs, be on the floor, go down and go away from the windows.'"

The horror and confusion which engulfed Halle on Wednesday has been replaced by bewilderment and painful questions. What many in Halle's Jewish community - and others besides - want to know is why there was no police guard to protect them: a situation Josef Schuster, president of Germany's Central Council of Jews, described as scandalous.

Most Jewish institutions in Germany are guarded - at the very least on holy days - but it is emerging that some synagogues in smaller towns do not have that security, with one police union suggesting that it was a question of insufficient resources.


As investigations continue, it has also become clear that the perpetrator failed to realise the full extent of his murderous ambitions. When the 27-year-old German was unable to enter the synagogue he turned to other nearby targets, killing a woman in the street and attacking a kebab shop where he killed a man.

And his apparent motivation, the right-wing extremism and anti-Semitism he exhibited both before and during the attacks - which he filmed and streamed online - has horrified the country.

"Unfortunately we have to face the truth and the truth is, and has been for a while now, that the threat level posed by anti-Semitism, right-wing extremism and right-wing terrorism in Germany is very high," German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer admitted on Thursday.

For Igor, who we met as he walked near the synagogue, rain spotting his kippa, that's no surprise. A young man, he told us that he wouldn't usually wear the Jewish skull cap in public but he wanted to show his solidarity today.  He said that even before the attacks he was afraid. "Jewish life is sadly nothing normal in Germany," he said. "I know from people who wear the kippa in the street - they get harsh comments or people spit in their direction."

As the authorities scramble to react, there is an overwhelming sense of sorrow. This country, so shamed by its past, must - it seems - now tackle a painful present. And tackle it properly, said Christina, who, reflecting on those terrifying hours inside the synagogue, said Germany has a problem with anti-Semitism.

"Politicians keep telling us this is terrible. It should never happen again but we've been hearing that for years - decades - and it keeps happening." --BBCi

The Jewish Observer,

Los Angeles


JERUSALEM -- Sixty percent of Israelis oppose the American Jewish community influencing decisions related to religion and state in Israel, according to a new survey recently released by the Ruderman Family Foundation.

Ruderman Family Foundation study also finds that 57 percent of Israelis say they have little or no knowledge of Jewish organizations in the U.S.

Perhaps even more alarming, 57% percent of Israelis have little or no knowledge of American Jewish organizations and only 9% know those organizations well. Of these respondents, 45% said they had zero exposure to the organizations’ work, 44% said they were rarely exposed to that work, and only 2% said they were exposed regularly.

The survey was conducted by the Dialogue polling company among 500 respondents from a demographically representative sampling of Israel’s adult Jewish population. The Ruderman Family Foundation, which works to strengthen the relationship between Israel and the American Jewish community, commissioned the survey in order to better assess Israeli public opinion towards various aspects of U.S. Jewry.

Seventy-nine percent of respondents noted they did not actively follow Jewish organizations’ work on any traditional or social media platform. Only 22 percent said they had an excellent or very good understanding of the differences between the religious streams of U.S. Jewry, with 32% reporting somewhat of an understanding and 26% little to no understanding.

Among the Israeli public’s criticisms of leading American Jewish organizations, 35% said those groups are not sufficiently diverse and do not incorporate various voices such as younger Jews, women, and the LGBTQ community.

When asked how much would they would like to see a new Jewish organization established to make Israel's relationship with American Jewry “relevant to the 21st century,” 40% said they would very much like to see such a move and only 10% opposed the idea.

On a more upbeat note, 89% said they saw a moral importance in Israel's relationship with the American Jewish community, and 51% stated they trust U.S. Jewish organizations and believe those groups represent Israeli interests in America.

Respondents also ranked the areas in which they felt the strongest connection to U.S. Jewry, with 38% identifying the Israeli media as their main source connection, followed by family ties (30%), Jewish holidays and Americans visiting Israel (25%), Jewish culture and art (17%), American and Jewish media 16%, and business ties (12%).

“The Israeli public openly admits to not knowing enough about the American Jewish community and its organizations. We must work to change this, especially among Israeli leaders and decision-makers. Israel's relationship with the American Jewish community is important for both sides and affects all areas of life — as this poll showed once again," said Jay Ruderman, President of the Ruderman Family Foundation. “While our Foundation works to expose Israelis to the role of American Jewish organizations, Israelis’ instinct that these organizations are often not representative of their interests behooves American Jews to examine how we can address that issue. Perhaps Israelis would better identify with American Jewish organizations if these organizations better represented the broad diversity found in the American Jewish community.  This is a two-way relationship, and both sides must work to strengthen it."

About the Ruderman Family Foundation

The Ruderman Family Foundation believes that inclusion and understanding of all people is essential to a fair and flourishing community.

Guided by our Jewish values, we support effective programs, innovative partnerships and a dynamic approach to philanthropy in our core areas of interest: advocating for and advancing the inclusion of people with disabilities around the world; modeling the practice of strategic philanthropy worldwide; and fostering a more nuanced understanding of the American Jewish community among Israeli leaders and its public. RFF continuously works towards strengthening this relationship, including Knesset Missions in New York City and Boston to further educate Israeli politicians on American Jewry and a Ruderman-sponsored Master’s program at the University of Haifa on American Jewish Studies.

The Foundation provides funding, leadership, expertise and insight in both the United States and Israel, with offices in both countries.

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