At Algemeiner Gala, Copenhagen Terror Survivor Mette Bentow Recalls Harrowing Night When Lives of Family Changed Forever (VIDEO)
Mette Bentow, survivor of the February 2015 terror attack on a Copenhagen synagogue, says she has been “extremely blessed” and given a second lease on life.
While addressing the third annual Algemeiner “Jewish 100 Gala” in New York Monday evening, Bentow recalled the night she and her family narrowly escaped death, saying it was the second time that a member of her family had been saved by “courage and kindness from someone.”
The first time was in October 1943, when a non-Jewish stranger and his 16-year-old son took my grandparents in a rowing boat in the middle of the night to safety to Sweden. The second time it was no random stranger who saved my family.
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Then, on February 14 last year, during the bat mitzva celebration of Bentow’s daughter, Hannah, security guard Dan Uzan, a “kind, generous and treasured member of our community,” gave up his life to save those inside the synagogue.
As Bentow explained in her own words:
Hannah had spoken that day in the Great Synagogue of Copenhagen about the importance of tolerance, of showing compassion and doing good deeds. Twelve hours later, Hannah and her two brothers and 18 of their young friends learned that tolerance and compassion does not always extend to them. That night, Jewish security guard Dan Uzan, blessed be his memory, was shot and killed while protecting the entrance to the synagogue where we were inside celebrating. According to the police, Dan prevented a massacre, a massacre intended for me, for my children and for everyone I loved most in the world…after the longest and hardest night of our lives, we were trying to come to grips with what happened and our hearts bled for Dan and his wonderful family.
Sharing her experience as a mother, Bentow reflected on her struggle to “reclaim my children’s innocence.”
“The very foundation of our lives, our right to live in peace without fearing for our lives, had been shaken to its core. But how do you explain that? I had no words for comfort and no words for optimism,” she said.
Thanking The Algemeiner for giving her “the strength and courage to speak out” about the realities Jews now face in Europe, Bentow ended her remarks with this message: “In a time where antisemitism is again sweeping across Europe and where the BDS movement is gaining popularity by the minute, the need for a voice, our voice, my voice, a Jewish voice, is more important than ever.”
Watch Bentow’s full remarks below: