German officials support Chabad after attack

Toby Axelrod, JTA

BERLIN (JTA) — All Germans must actively fight prejudice was the common message at a solidarity service days after an attempted arson at the Chabad-run kindergarten here.

Leaders of the Jewish community were joined March 1 by representatives of all the major political parties.

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Among the officials on hand were German Interior Minister Wolfgang Schauble and Berlin Interior Minister Ehrhart Korting, who had visited the site soon after the Feb. 25 attack. Also present was Kenan Kolat, head of the Turkish Association in Berlin and Brandenburg.

Anti-Semitic and Nazi graffiti were scrawled on the school and on children’s toys left outside. A smoke bomb was thrown into the building but did not detonate. No one was inside at the time.

Police have asked witnesses to come forward, but no progress has been reported in the investigation.

“Any such attack is one too many, ” Schauble told reporters after the service, which was led by Chabad Rabbis Yehudah Teichtal and Shmuel Segal. “It is not only a matter for the police. This was an attack against human values. We have to defend our Jewish community. We want to have a very secure, normal Jewish life in Germany. “

In a letter to Rabbi Teichtal, German Chancellor Angela Merkel wrote that she was “distressed and horrified to hear about the ugly attack ” on the kindergarten.

“The security agencies will do everything to arrest the perpetrators, ” she wrote. “Every attack on Jewish insitutions is an attack on our entire democracy, an attack on peaceful coexistence, and on tolerance between religions and cultures. Together we must oppose every attempt to injure these basic values of our democratic society. “

Gideon Joffe, head of the Berlin Jewish community, at the solidarity service called on non-Jews in Germany to don a kipah or Star of David in public to get an idea of how it feels to be openly Jewish here today.

Claudia Roth, a member of Parliament from the Green Party, said she would consider wearing the Star of David in public but would first consult a rabbi in her home state of Bavaria.

Stephan Kramer, secretary general of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, told JTA he was concerned about extremism from neo-Nazis and Muslim extremists.

“They are now violent, ” he said. “There is a change in quality. And this is not only concerning Jews but also non-Jewish Germans. “

“The question is whether security was enough, ” he said, suggesting that because the Chabad school is not officially part of the Jewish community, it had fallen outside the usual security considerations.

“The Berlin Jewish community has a responsibility, morally and ethically, ” for all Jewish institutions in its area, Kramer said. Deidre Berger, head of the American Jewish Committee office in Berlin, told JTA she appreciated the presence of all majorpolitical parties at the service.

“It sends a signal to all Germans that acts of anti-Semitism are acts against democracy, ” she said.

The Israeli Embassy, which also had a representative at the service, issued a statement condemning the attack.

“This act crosses a boundary, ” the statement said. “We are very worried to observe that in recent years there has been an increase in anti-Semitic and right-wing extremist crimes in Germany, and we see this incident within this context.We are sure that the democratic institutions and civil society of Germany will do everything in their power to stop this disastrous trend and to bring the perpetrators to justice. “