With Onset of Yom Kippur, Authorities Move to Protect Jewish Communities in Denmark and Sweden
Danish Jews attending Yom Kippur services in Copenhagen’s Great Synagogue on Friday night and Saturday will do so protected by their country’s army, following the government’s decision to deploy troops at both the synagogue and the Israeli Embassy in the Danish capital.
Jewish institutions in Denmark have been under armed police guard since February 15 2015, when one Jewish man was murdered and two police officers wounded in a gun attack on the synagogue while a bat mitzvah celebration was taking place. The gunman was a 22-year-old Islamist, Omar El Hussein, who earlier the same night shot dead one person at a Copenhagen cafe that was hosting a discussion on art and religion.
Copenhagen police spokesman Rasmus Bernt Skovsgaard told the AFP news agency it was the first time that Danish troops were “used in this type of situation, so it’s unique.” Hours before worshipers arrived for the Kol Nidrei service, the street where the synagogue is housed had been sealed at both ends.
Denmark’s terror threat level is “serious,” ranked four on a five-point scale, according to the Danish Security and Intelligence Service (PET).
The soldiers, who will be deployed at the synagogue until March 2018, were “well-trained and equipped to carry out this type of mission,” said Lieutenant-Colonel Steen Dalsgaard of the Danish army. Police officers will continue to guard Copenhagen’s Jewish school and Jewish museum.
Meanwhile, Jews in neighboring Sweden expressed relief in the run-up to Yom Kippur after a court order rerouted a neo-Nazi demonstration, planned for Saturday, away from the synagogue in the southern city of Gothenburg.
The Jewish community “welcomes the Gothenburg administrative court’s decision to not allow the neo-Nazi group to march close to Gothenburg’s synagogue on the holiest day of the Jewish year, Yom Kippur,” Aron Verstandig — chairman of the Council of Swedish Jewish Communities — said in a statement.