page contents

A German American view on Yom Kippur and the Synagogue Attack in Halle

“G’mar Hatima Tova” (May you be sealed in the Book of Life) to all Jewish readers around the globe. Yom Kippur, also known as the Day of Atonement, is the holiest day of the year in Judaism. Its central themes are atonement and repentance. Jews traditionally observe this holy day with an approximate 25-hour period of fasting and intensive prayer, often spending most of the day in synagogue services.

Thinking about my many Jewish friends and colleagues around the world, it’s appropriate to join the overwhelming number of Germans and the German Chancellor Angela Merkel. The Chancellor joined residents tonight in a vigil outside a synagogue in Berlin. Her participation was to lead the German people in expressing their condemnation of the horrible domestic terror attack earlier today on the Jewish place of worship, the synagogue in Halle.

Growing up in Germany after WWII, I always experienced my old country to be the most tolerant place in the world. It is important to understand that the threat of white supremacist violence is worldwide, and it will require us to act on a worldwide level in order to stop it. The danger from the right is real, unfortunately, but not only in Germany, even in our own country, the United States of America.

As the Mayor of London said today:  “It’s devastating that people have been attacked near a synagogue in #Halle today on Yom Kippur. The horrors of the past feel very present for many Jews, as antisemitism is again on the rise. I’ll continue to do all I can to protect Jewish Londoners so they feel safe in our city. My thoughts are with the victims of the shooting in Halle. Let’s stop the hate. Let’s fight antisemitism. Let’s build an open and tolerant Europe.”

As a German American, I am proud to have witnessed my “old country” has been instrumental in building such an open and tolerant Europe and stand against what is wrong. Germany converted into a truly global society with German citizens of any skin color, religious affiliation, and orientation. This is something Germans must be proud of.

Anyone saying the Holocaust never happened and use this ill-belief to justify murdering innocent citizens is a violent and sick criminal behavior – nothing more, nothing less.

It pains me to see a 27-year-young man turn into a senseless killer. I have seen and talked to German skinheads in Berlin.

They are young people often looking for an identity. Sometimes criminal gangs provide a feeling of belonging, and young people are most vulnerable. In the U.S. and many other countries, racially motivated gangs and drug-related criminal enterprises often prey on young people. It’s wrong, it’s dangerous and it takes professional and trained counselors to stop it.  Germany actually invests heavily in such professionals.

However German social services are overwhelmed with the refugee crisis but are providing many programs not available in most countries to prevent what just happened in Halle today.

As German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer said today based on current information, “we have to assume that it was at least an antisemitic attack.”

I urge everyone not to judge my German countrymen on the action of a small group of misguided people.

Travel and Tourism is an industry of peace and understanding. Germans are world champions when it comes to travel. With an average of 6 paid weeks vacation in a year Germans love to explore the world and have the means to do so. They are well respected everywhere in the world.

Germany is one of the most popular travel and tourism destinations in the world. I urge everyone to keep traveling. Explore Germany on your own.  Germany is a safe and welcoming destination with open-minded, and tolerant people that believe in human rights, environmental protection, and freedoms.

I am so proud of my birthplace and feel the pain German citizens feel tonight. This is not a Christian, Jewish, or Islamic issue. It’s a criminal issue, and my appeal is for the German legislature is to increase punishment for such senseless and criminal acts. The German justice system is known to be fair, open-minded, but not for harsh punishments.

The German people join all decent people in this world condemning antisemitism and terror.  Shalom!

This statement is by Juergen Steinmetz, publisher of eTurboNews.