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1 year after shooting, virus forces Halle’s Jews out of synagogue for holidays

Congregation in eastern Germany continued to use building following attempted attack last Yom Kippur, but must now move to new venue to adhere to social distancing

Visitors at the synagogue in Halle the day after a gunman targeted the house of worship in eastern Germany, October 10, 2019. (Jens Schlueter/Getty Images/via JTA)
Visitors at the synagogue in Halle the day after a gunman targeted the house of worship in eastern Germany, October 10, 2019. (Jens Schlueter/Getty Images/via JTA)

JTA — 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, told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

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 he killed near the synagogue after failing to enter. The gunman filmed and live-streamed the shootings.

Mourners light candles on October 10, 2019, at the synagogue in Halle, eastern Germany, one day after a deadly anti-Semitic shooting. (Ronny Hartmann/AFP)

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.

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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