Jews hate some rabbis

The Jewish community in HalleGo or stay?

A youth group from Haifa in Israel stands in the Halle synagogue and sings the HaTikvah, the Israeli national anthem. The forty or so girls and boys came to show their solidarity with the Jewish community in Halle. Right in the middle: Rabbi Elischa Portnoy. The community is still in shock. Even more, some members are only now realizing, says the 42-year-old rabbi, how lucky they were that the door to the synagogue was held. And that one is still alive.

"Of course the people who have been here, who have experienced everything here, gradually understand what happened, what a miracle they experienced. And what could have happened. Some cannot sleep, many first have to come to terms with it. many still have to process it before they can recover. "

Parishioners are exhausted

That will take time, predicts Rabbi Elischa Portnoy. He came to Germany with his parents from the Ukraine in 1997. After studying electrical engineering at the TU Berlin, he trained as a rabbi.

But he also observed - says Portnoy - that some parishioners are so exhausted that they are increasingly thinking about leaving Halle or Germany for the USA or Israel.

"For some: yes. Others are waiting for the next development, how the situation in Halle develops."

Anyone who wants to emigrate cannot be stopped. But: running away doesn't help, adds Rabbi Portnoy. When parishioners come up to him for advice, he makes it clear to them that nowhere in the world do Jews have it easy. But: everyone has their place. And our place is now hall, says the 42-year-old rabbi.

Elischa Portnoy, Orthodox parish rabbi in Dessau and Halle (imago images / Lutz Sebastian)

"If someone asks me whether they should emigrate, I wouldn't say yes. I would say you have to think carefully about where you have better chances for Jewish life. We have a good community here, very good youth work, there are many activities for all age groups. And that's why you don't necessarily find something better somewhere else. "

"We are optimistic, we have to be too"

It is more the elderly who are now thinking of leaving Germany. The young parishioners are different, they definitely want to stay. At least still. One of them is Nelly. Out of fear, she doesn't want to hear her last name on the radio. She was in the synagogue when the assassin tried to break in. She suffered from fear of death, says the 21-year-old, who is responsible for child labor in the community. But now they have moved closer together - much more than before.

"In any case, on the Shabbat after the attack, all the parishioners came here with friends, acquaintances and relatives," says Nelly. "We do all the events as planned. We do not cancel anything. Of course it has left its mark. But we have hope, we are optimistic. We have to be that as the Jewish people after all the history that we have experienced. We have to do that also be."

Much sympathy after the attack

After Max Privorozki, the chairman of the Jewish community, first revealed his feelings in an interview with the "Süddeutsche Zeitung" that he - not now, maybe someday - could imagine emigrating, a storm of anti-Semitic comments broke out. Which is why the media that picked up the interview - including the "Mitteldeutsche Rundfunk" and the "Mitteldeutsche Zeitung" - then all switched off their comment columns.

"So it's no surprise to us."

Halle residents and guests of the city mourn publicly on the market square (Imago)

Says Rabbi Portnoy soberly. But on the contrary. After the attack, the Jewish community received a lot of sympathy. Anti-Semites, in turn, could not cope with that.

"There are fewer reasons to rethink. On the contrary: There are even more reasons to be jealous of Jews and to have even more hate."

Fairy lights and kind words are not enough

Nelly is also convinced: fairy lights and vigils are all well and good, they would show that Jews are not alone. But that is not enough. Something has to change in people's minds. Only: she doesn't quite believe it.

"That is a clear sign that we have a problem in our society," says Nelly. "Such hate speech, such words that people write on the Internet - without taking responsibility for them - so it is good that such comment columns are turned off. Hate should not find its way into our heads."

After the terrorist attack, the agenda went too quickly. The hatred continues to emerge openly. But the community shouldn't be impressed by this. On the contrary, says Nelly, one must now place a lot more emphasis on being Jewish.