Amid pandemic, Halle Jews forced out of synagogue again year after attack

The coronavirus, not the attempted Yom Kippur attack by a gunman nearly a year ago, will keep the Jewish community of Halle, Germany, out of its synagogue for the High Holidays in 2020.

The congregation will worship at a larger municipal space that’s more suitable for social distancing.

“We are not happy about this, we’d rather be in our synagogue, but this is the most practical solution,” the chairman of the community, Max Privorozki, said.

The synagogue was full to its capacity of about 100 last October when a white supremacist gunman tried to blast open the building’s armored door on Yom Kippur. He is standing trial for the murder of two people near the synagogue after failing to enter. The gunman filled the killings.

Members of Halle’s Jewish community of about 500 people were “looking forward to spending Yom Kippur and the High Holidays in the synagogue,” Privorozki said.

“Trauma is not an issue – we come there every Shabbat,” he added.

But under the emergency measures for social distancing due to the coronavirus, the building can now only accommodate 19 people.

“I’m not going to choose for my congregants can come to synagogue, so it’s either we move to a new space or we have no space,” Privorozki said.

The community has moved its Torah scroll to the alternative venue, which normally has a capacity of 400 but can now accommodate only 80 people.

Police, who were criticized for not providing security to the synagogue last year, will guard both of the municipal building’s entrance points, Privorozki said.

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