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Defiant Mother Who Hosted Bat-Mitzva as Terror Struck Copenhagen Synagogue Recounts Harrowing Ordeal – ‘No One Can Tell Me Where I Can Live My Jewish Life’ (INTERVIEW)

February 15, 2015 3:39 pm 54 comments

The Great Synagogue in central Copenhagen, Denmark. Photo: Wikipedia.

Mette Bentow, the mother whose daughter’s bat-mitzva was cut short by the terror attack at the Copenhagen synagogue late last night, sounded a defiant tone in an interview with The Algemeiner on Sunday, in which she recounted her harrowing experiences of the past 24 hours.

“No one can tell me where I can live my Jewish life,” she insisted strongly, even as she admitted, “I don’t know if there will be a Danish Jewish life” for her children to live there.

“We were celebrating the bat-mitzva of our daughter Hannah and due to heightened security in Copenhagen, there were extra security personnel on the ground, both from the Jewish community but also from the police,” Bentow recounted. “There were armed police officers, which is not a usual sight in Copenhagen.”

“We were having a wonderful party until 20 minutes to one in the morning, when one of the Jewish security guards asked us to go downstairs to the basement, and, after a short while, he took my husband aside, who has a security background, briefed him on what had happened, and gave him a radio. We then proceeded into a security room, a panic room where we were left.”

Bentow said that no gunshots were heard by guests at the party “because we were listening to music, we were dancing and the community center is behind the synagogue itself, so we didn’t hear anything.”

Most of the guests had already left the party at the time of the attack, but among those who remained were “15 classmates of my daughter, many of which were without their parents,” Bentow said.

The group remained “in the panic room for an hour and a half to two hours. We did our very best to try and calm the children down,” she continued. “The youngest in the room was my own son, my youngest son, who is 8 years old.”

“My husband was aware of the situation but chose to hold this from the children and tried to make light of the situation, explaining it as a standard procedure, and therefore we tried to comfort each other and keep the children calm. After one and a half to two hours in the security room, we were escorted by armed police out of the building into buses and taken to an evacuation center outside the center of Copenhagen, where we were met by police, psychologists and childrens psychiatrists.”

Bentow said the community is “deeply affected by the events and very saddened,” and offered praise to the Jewish community’s volunteer security staff. “Throughout the entire time, we felt that the Jewish security personnel at the center were doing their utmost to keep us safe,” she said. “They were professional, calm, and they made us feel safe, they were truly heroes to us.”

Bentow recounted her final moments with Dan Uzan, the Jewish security guard killed in the attack, whom she said she knew “very well.”

“The whole day yesterday my husband and I said to each other ‘baruch hashem (thank God) that Dan will be our guard tonight because then we will be safe,'” she said. “When I came to the community center before the party to prepare the last things, my children and I met Dan at the gate, we came at the same time. We were joking, he was teasing, and I said to him ‘I am so happy you are going to be taking care of us tonight.'”

“He was such a kind, kind person. He was always helpful, a real joker, two meters high, a huge guy and such a teddy bear,” she said.

Asked about her feelings regarding the future of the Jewish community in Denmark, Bentow was stoic but pessimistic.

“I am Danish, I am very proud to be Danish, Denmark without Danish Jewish history wouldn’t be the same Denmark,” she insisted. “No one, no one can tell me where I can live my Jewish life and I hope that this is the wake up call.”

Bentow also had harsh words for Danish authorities who, she said, should have taken greater steps to protect the Jewish community, specifically following last month’s bloody terror attack at a kosher supermarket in France.

“This should never have happened because obviously the Jewish community has been saying for quite a while that we need more security and we need more resources. Let me just say that after the events in Paris, it was just a matter of time. We all knew that, and I think that Jews all over the world and in Europe especially are under attack, but I think you cannot set us aside from the population at large because they are also under attack.”

“I don’t know how I feel,” Bentow concluded. “I feel that Denmark is our home, I have the right to live here, I want to live here, but I don’t know if my kids will stay here.”

“I don’t know if there will be a Danish Jewish life for them to live here.”

54 Comments

  • Hugo: Your antisemtic comments give away your true character!!
    and any credibility you might have.

  • I’m in full agreement and solidarity with this woman, who speaks her truth with integrity and strength. Love, support, condolences and blessings from Vancouver, BC, Canada.

  • Rabbi Menashe Bovit

    As with the rest of Europe, the Danes desire to remain intentionally clueless about the scourge of Muslim terror erupting throughout the western world. The Danish prime minister blathered about this being a “political attack”. A political attack? No, this again was aggressive, purposeful, religious terrorism compliments of the “religion of peace”.

  • Yet again it is a Woman who has the sense to see the reality for the Jews belongs where they stand, together with those Neighbours who will not sit idly by and allow them to be attacked, abused or killed. Thank You Mette Bentow! NO one has the right to tell You were to live!

  • It appears that many Jewish people detest those who do not share their faith – why is this? Can someone please provide me with a rational explanation!

    Unfortunately many comments to this article reflect this hatred towards non-Jews.

  • I have a feeling that the Danish government cannot be indicted too strongly for negligence in securing the Jewish community. To prevent a Muslim wacko, acting largely alone, from going on a killing spree is not an easy task. Probably the best prevention is good domestic intelligence; Denmark does not have the kind of history that would induce a government to invest heavily in intelligence and it takes time to establish a solid intelligence network.

    Is it time for European Jews to pick up and leave? The question is not an easy one, because if they do, who is to say that their new home will be safer in the near future, or ten years down the road?

    Recently someone put it to me this way: A hundred years ago, where was the most secure place on the planet for a Jew to call home? Germany.

  • I will not condemn the common Dane, or the common French citizen for that matter for failing to protect their Jewish brethren. But a few can make a country act evil, as evident by Nazi Germany, Iran, North Korea, Uganda under Idi Amin, Iraq under Saddam Hussein, and others who escape my memory. To change in those countries who have experienced large Muslim immigration, there has to be a movement strong enough to break inertia and take back those neighborhoods where non-Muslims fear to tread.

  • Thank God for Bibi. Much of this is on Obama who claims the media gives too much attention to terrorism. He hates Jews and favors Muslims.

  • My thoughts are with you and the security guard’s
    family. My family were very involved in the Shul in Copenhagen and I as a child attended the Shul too, later moving to Sweden and now living in London.
    My late grandmother lived in the old age home Meyer’s Minde behind the shul and was living there at the time of the bombings of the Shul in the 1970’s.

    • Ms Bo Salsberg

      My heart cries for you Mette Bentow, your children, your family,the security guard and all the other Jews who have come upon attack recently. As an American, I weep for the memories of those dear to us gone since the Holocaust who must know of our fears in today’s world. We are being picked off one by one and yet we stand still. How many more heroes will be lain to rest before the madness ends.

  • From the book Marrakesh girl
    When I smell spices my nose prickles to the aroma of the country of my birth.
    The sound of my language makes my ear stand to listen to my once spoken language
    The sound of music wakes a passion for my leaded feet to dance to the rock of the tambourine.
    What I remember mostly is a grand house with no architectural design, a simple place that was filled with laughter and banter and a listening ear for the glitches of life.
    The mention of the word Morocco brings a nostalgic feeling of pleasure and sadness. For this was a country that gave refuge to my ancestors with opened arms to live in peace around five hundred years or so earlier.
    At the age of eleven this same accommodating country became hostile to me and my family for the simple reason of my race wanting to build a country in the infertile region of Israel to call our own.
    ‘Will you also be going to live in the desert was a question often asked by our friends and neighbors.’
    As we left I waved to my bland house and made a promise that one day I will come to say hello, do you remember me. But later in life I decided against this decision I wanted to live with my beautiful imagination.
    My brother went to visit and came back with disappointment on his chest. ‘It’s a dump he said. On his travels the trees did not sing for him, the place did not talk to him except one woman who recognized him. ‘Are you one of my town,’ she asked.
    ‘Yes he answered and wondered if the woman will become hostile as most of her brethren have lately done. ‘Since your people left our lives turned to shit.’ She said bluntly.
    He felt sad that people will always blame our race for the rust in their lives.

    • It’s a fact, that Jews bring blessing. When they leave, so does the blessing. That’s why. Check out Spain.

  • Please tell Mrs. Bentow that this Jew, at least, in Los Angeles, California weeps for her and her children and all the people at the party and all the Jews in Denmark and Europe – and that I am praying for her friend and hero, Dan Uzan. And for her, and her family and community.

    I think that love and light and wisdom will prevail in the long run, and I hope that knowing that what happened matters to people all around the world, and knowing also that we are praying for her, will help her and her children face life in the meantime, in the present. People do learn from mistakes being made. Going through them is hard, though. But – tell her she and her husband and children, and the Danish Jewish community, are not alone. I could not read your article quoting her and telling us about her, without caring and praying for her.

  • It is time for the Danish Prime Minister Heller Thorning-Schmidt to declare that members of all Danish mosques will observe Shiva for the Danish film director Finn Norgaard and for Danish citizen Dan Uzan, a Jew; that all Danish mosques will remain closed for one month in mourning for the two men murdered, three Danish police officers injured (shot)and in sorrow for the criminal attack upon the Great Synagogue in Copenhagen where its members were celebrating a bat-mitzvah. Further, the home/apartment and assets of the 22 year old Danish born Arab jihadist murderer and his family must be confiscated and the family deported to an Arab country of their choice. They do not belong in European or Western society. For every future Arab attack against a synagogue or Jew is Denmark, one mosque will be confiscated to the Danish government Until they are all seized and closed.

    • That may really work.

    • I agree that Arabs do not belong to European societies, but neither do Jews. Because of the feuds between Arabs and Jews we now have this chaos in our land. Keep it to the Middle East!

    • The Danish prime minister has absolutely NO say in the running of any mosque, synagogue, church or other place of worship! We have religious freedom in Denmark, and we´d like to keep it that way, thank you very much!

      I absolutely deplore the actions of ONE man this weekend (I was supposed to attend the premiere of a play at Krudttønden yesterday, and I’m from Hørsholm, where Dan played basketball), but nothing is solved by adding to hate, by forcing people to do anything.

      Over 30.000 gathered monday evening next to Krudttønden, and as one of them, I can tell you we were people from all walks of life. Everyone was there to show respect to two people mown down, to five policeofficers wounded in the line of duty, and above all else to the fact that Denmark will NOT let hate and violence make the rules for how we live. We heard speeches from our prime minister, from the French Ambassador (who was present at Krudttønden when the attack ocurred), we heard from the chairman of the Jewish society in Denmark (who urged everyone to embrace tolerance, and cooperation), and from the chairman of the police association (who thanked the general public for their support of the police). We listened to music from great Danish musicians, all songs about Peace, solidarity, and working together towards the two.

      I stood next to ladies in furs, young men holding red roses, children with torches, people of Asian descent, young girls wearing Muslim scarves, and the former head Rabbi, who came up from Poland for this event. I stood quite near our Crown Prince, who was there to support the cause of Peace, as well as cabinet ministers, the American Ambassador, and everyone was in one mind, everyone was silent for a minutes respect, everyone joined in in a song, and all were moved.

      I still hold hopes for a future of peace in my country, but those hopes are given severe knocks every time people say bad things about eachother, every time people are treated badly because of their religion. I’m a practising Christian, who respects the beliefs of others, and I would hope others could do the same instead of speaking hatefully about eachother.

  • The spirit of Mrs Bentow is admirable and the actions of the Danish police is commendable. What is missing is the apathy of the Danish community and the complete lack of condemnation of the terror attacks by Danish mohammedans.

    • René Mangurten

      There has been a very great back up against the terror and lots of empathy shown by the people and by the government. The leader of the muslim community in Denmark has said, that to him people who are doing these murders are not muslims.

  • My heart goes out to you, but a Jewish person in any country may be a victim now. Indeed it may be closer to the truth to say that no-one is safe any more from these madmen.

  • Mette Bentow’s courage and intelligence are precious to the human species. But, I wonder is she, and many millions of other proud believers in a good, omniscient and all-powerful God, mentally prepared to consider what may be the only recourse left for religious humanity? Unite as a single religion under the worship of a single God, or admit that religion itself is the poison that kills the the bonds that should unite the human species. Each religion is so jealous of its power among the tribes of mankind that none is willing to concede a particle of that power even when the alternative is final Armageddon. Either there is only one God for all creatures, with one religion for all under this God, or chaos will overtake our feeble civilizations.

  • There is ONLY one way for Jews and all non-Muslims to be safe. Repatriate Muslims in Britain and Europe back to their hell hole countries now.

    Wicked British and European leaders committed a Crime Against Humanity by colonising each one of the tiny nations of Europe and Britain with millions of Muslims. Huge Muslim armies implanted inside each one of our nations.

    The Quran commands Muslims to wage jihad against non-Muslims, behead, forcibly convert, kidnap, rape, perpetrate satanic atrocities, mass barbaric murder of non-Muslims and capture our females for sex slaves.

    Our leaders are traitors. They sold their souls and sold out our people to totalitarian, supremacist, colonialist, imperialist, racist, fascist Islam. G-d will punish them for their great evil.

    • You are quite right. If Europe is to survive, immigration must be stopped, and many of the unintegrated families must be sent back to where they come from, or another more suitable place for them.

      The Palestinians, who are among the worst trouble makers in Denmark must of course be sent back to their country of origin; Palestine. I’m sure all Israelis understand that Europe can not be a receptacle for Muslims that are unwanted in Israel.

      And there is another thing I want to bring to the attention of the Jewish public:

      Jewish leaders in Europe often complain about “anti-Semitism”, but without specifying from where and from whom this “anti-Semitism” (a stupid word especially today since the perps are more “Semitic” than most Jews). In this way they are habitually accusing whole European peoples. The truth is of course, that all this “anti-Semitism” and violence is perpetrated by Muslims. But Jews somehow prefer to have “Nazis” as their enemy and every European is a potential “Nazi”. That is what Jewish upbringing also does.

      And when the word “Nazi” is not used, we hear about the “danger from right wing nationalists”, who are also considered “Jew haters”.

      And that may even apply in some respects. And why? Well because Jewish communities and major Jewish organizations are, and were for many decades the prime movers and shakers in the multicultural business of allowing millions of Muslims into our countries (in the USA it is millions of Mexicans and similar people).

      So now we hear Jews moaning and crying and complaining about the effects of Muslim mass immigration, and in many cases still pointing fingers at the native Europeans for “not protecting Jews” etc.

      That is why a lot of patriotic people “don’t like Jews”.

      To quote the Jewish American/ Israeli Barbara Lerner Spectre married to a rabbi in Stockholm, and leader of the so called Paideia organization:

      “I think there is a resurgence of anti-Semitism because at this point in time Europe has not yet learned how to be multicultural. And I think we are going to be part of the throes of that transformation, which must take place. Europe is not going to be the monolithic societies they once were in the last century. Jews are going to be at the centre of that. It’s a huge transformation for Europe to make. They are now going into a multicultural mode and Jews will be resented because of our leading role. But without that leading role and without that transformation, Europe will not survive.”

      This is why many Europeans are not too fond about Jews. Not because they are “Nazis”, not because they are “racists” (which they may or may not be), not because of big noses, and not because of some mythological hereditary mental illness, as some Jewish theoreticians allege, but because Jewish influence eroded and erodes our countries from the inside. Jewish lobbying for lax immigration laws is one of the main reasons for our misfortune. And the way for this development was paved by the Jewish Frankfurt school of thought. And these anti-native activities by Jews; they must be “self hating Jews”? No most of these Jewish multicultural activists who go for importing more Muslims and Asians are “good Zionists”. Isi Leibler (Australia) is one good example!

      Every one of the countless “holocaust event” in Europe is accompanied by propaganda for immigrant’s rights, homosexuals’ special rights and so on with moralizing Jews at the center of it. So now you know why many people are sick and tired of hearing about “the holocaust” as well. It is an event greatly abused by Marxist ideologues and by Jews as well, since they are pointing their fingers at every European for “not doing enough for the Jews”. If you want to see a humoristic satire about this Jewish problem; go to YouTube and find the video called; “Thank you Jews”. It sums it up pretty well.

      • Sure, let’s send the Palestinian Arabs back to their countries of origin. You will find they come from Turkey (my ex-in-laws were Palestinian Arabs, originating in Turkey), Lebanon (Leyla Khalid and her family, Syria, Egypt, and the surrounding Muslims countries. “Palestinian Arabs” do not truly exist as a people before they were declared by the Arab League in the 1950s.

  • Tragic… No one can secure every situation when a low-life rears it’s ugly head. Obviously there are weasels with nothing to live for. The utter waste.
    Shame.

  • Muslim extremist must be exiled even if born in a democratic country. Their beliefs are anathema to a western civilized society, they belong in a hole somewhere in Arabia.

  • The Holocaust occurred in Europe. If there were not a Holocaust there might not be an Israel. But there is an Israel and the Palestinians better deal with it and accept it and if they don’t like it, they can leave it and go to one of the other 24+ Arab nations.
    Europe murdered 6 million Jews and gained 20 million Arabs and they better wake up and smell the coffee. Kick the radicals out to one of the 24+ arab nations and let the moderate ones, if they actually do exist and are truly refugees seeking a better life, stay. But it’s time for Europe to realize that freedom isn’t free.

    • “Europe murdered six million Jews”

      A good example of what I was talking about in my previous post!

  • mhloutsidebeltway

    Leaving aside Danish sympathy for the Arabs and hatred of Israel, how can there be Jewish life in Denmark, a country where the nation’s parliament outlawed Shechita, Jewish ritual slaughter that is fundamental to daily Jewish observance? How can a Jew embrace Denmark as his/her country when the Parliament is considering banning Brit Milah? How can Jewish life continue in a country with such a small Jewish population that finding a Jewish spouse is exceedingly difficult and a majority of its Jews are already intermarried?

  • “No one, no one can tell me where I can live my Jewish life and I hope that this is the wake up call.”

    Really? Please move to Canada. The Jews of Europe transported to Canada would offset the one million muslims already here. It would balance out the vicious and mindless anti-Israel propaganda taught by leftist and muslims in the universities. It would balance the terribly one-sided anti-Israel crap of the CBC and CTV.
    It would help the poor naïve lefty Canadians to fend off the upcoming attempts to destroy their culture and replace it with one which has no beer and no hockey. Toronto calls out to the Jews of Europe, “claim refugee status, claim refugee staus!”

  • First, Baruch ha-Dayan ha-Emet; I wish the family of the guard all the comfort Heaven can send them.

    Second, mazal tov on the bat mitzvah of your daughter, Mette. You should continue to be the strong role model for her that must have been her entire life. Remaining quietly strong and impossible to accord being chased out of your home country, is just as important for those who believe in the sanctity and importance of our Diaspora communities.

    Finally, mazal tov Mette: you and all Denmark have the most famous Australian girl who ever married a foreigner, Mary, who will be Queen soon, we here in Oz here.

    And stay safe.

    • Please give practical advice not mazaltovs !
      The message screams at us Get out of countries where you are hated Surely the holocaust is a lesson
      Do not say: no one can tell me where I can live
      That is wrong If Denmark is hell and you have to look over your shoulder every day ,in fear of your life,it is total irresponsibility to turn a blind eye
      We all belong in Israel God is calling us home !

  • Samuel J. Savitz

    How sad that a nation that in the past that has so greatly contributed to protect its Jewish citizenry should now be confronted with the loss of that same community that has been loyal and contributed so greatly to its cultural and academic advancement, solely by reason of a segment of its society that impedes the advancement of civilization.

  • I agree 100% with the lady.

    NO ONE HAS THE RIGHT TO DECIDE FOR ME WHERE I WANT TO LIVE MY JEWISH LIFE!

    WHETHER I WISH TO LIVE AS A LEGAL NATIONAL IN ANY COUNTRY IN THE WORLD IS MY INALIENABLE RIGHT!!!

    • Right. But if you value your life it’s worth considering moving to friendlier shores. Israel is our homeland. There no-one (Obama) can tell us to leave.

  • Considering the current wave of Jew hatred in Europe and
    how the US President pooh-poohs it all as “random violence,”
    it is time, at least for now, to move to a safer place, perhaps Israel. Don’t wait until it’s too late, as so many did just a generation ago.

  • Julian Clovelley

    I have a part Danish friend whose grandparents helped operate the boats that smuggled Jews to Sweden during the Second World War. She is deeply proud of them. I believe this to be the real honourable face of Denmark and the real face of communities such as the British and my own Australian.

    The ordinary people don’t want any of this. The sooner things get back to normal the happier we will all be. Cut through the cultural myths and we are all the same really aren’t we? That a synagogue in this day and age should require a security guard is an outrage. That a man should lose his life because it is necessary to defend innocent children against premeditated murder is something to sadden us all. That was one brave man.

  • The Danes protected their Jewish population during WWII, and they will do so again.

  • Dr. Stephen Steinlight

    Of course I sympathize with the feelings of the mother of the Bat-Mitzvah in her outrage against the vile circumstances she faces. But I think taking it out on Netanyahu is unfortunate. German Jews were also in denial. I’m not saying we are back in the 30’s in every respect and easy analogies are invariably wrong. Still, perhaps it would be better for the future of her children if she took Netanyahu’s words to heart. The governments of Europe don’t give a damn about their Jews. I very much hope I am wrong, but I believe we are witnessing the last chapter of Jewish history in Western Europe.

  • a foolish jewish ostrich, children could have been shot dead if earlier. How can this fool be proud to be Danish? The cheif rabbi is worse by suggesting Jews should stay and die in a place that will never change. she endangers her children and others for nothing becuase to be Danish is to be nothing.

  • Bernhard Rosenberg The world has learned nothing from the holocaust. For a while there was quiet after the holocaust but then all was forgotten My father was in Auschwitz and my mother in Skarsichko and I was born in a D.P. camp. My fathers first wife and children were murdered by the Nazis. The new Nazis , extremist Muslims, have raised their ugly heads and we need to annihilate them. World War 111 has begun. We must fight for the survival of Israel. Iran is our enemy. Isis is a cancer which must be eradicated. Rabbi Dr. Bernhard Rosenberg

  • She says what we all fee; ; what a stoic brave family

    Jews suffer -not “Society ”

    Why should we not be able to live freely ?

    out thoughts are with Dan Uzans family and also

    with the Bat Mitzvah girl whose celebration this

    was supposed to be -on becoming an adult

    What a sick sick world -the Country that helped to save most of its Jews in WW2 can now protect them now from another set of uncivilised zealots

  • Mickey Oberman

    I feel so sorry for the Jews of Denmarks and, indeed, of all of Europe.
    They are in a terrible predicament. But I believe the handwriting is on the wall.

    Their future is not in societies so riddled with hatred of Jews that that they are willing to become Islamic dhimmis, virtual slaves and relinquish their sovereignty to spite their Jewish populations.

    They are cowardly, inferior fools who well deserve what they are about to suffer.

  • Sorry, Ma’am but if you stay in Denmark, or anywhere in Europe, you’re dead.

    The Europeans and the Muslims agree, above all else, about finishing the work of their common hero, Adolf Hitler, and wiping every Jew off the face of the Earth.

    It sucks, but that’s how it is.

    It is time for Jews to leave Europe, and leave Europe to its fate.

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    JNS.org – As a young boy growing up in Ashdod, Israel, Alon Day got his first go-kart at age 9. By 15, he was racing them. Less than a decade later, Day has become the first Israeli professional race car driver on the NASCAR circuit. He made history by competing in NASCAR’s Xfinity Series race at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course on August 13. “Driving a race car is not like any other sport,” Day told JNS.org. “You are actually almost flying […]

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