On Yom Kippur, an armed assailant tried to enter a synagogue in Halle, Germany and massacre its congregants - gunning down people on the street after he failed to access the 51 people praying inside. How come congregants were unharmed?
According to the Secure Community Network (SCN), the official homeland security and safety initiative of the organized Jewish community in North America, there is much that every synagogue can learn from the Halle attack.
“Whether in Europe or the United States, every synagogue can learn from the attack in Germany to improve the safety and security of their congregation – and our Jewish community,” said SCN CEO Michael Masters.
He noted three lessons that other Jewish communities can learn from Halle: Limit access, conduct training and build relationships with law enforcement.
“In Halle, the shooter was not able to enter the synagogue for the simple reason that the synagogue door was locked and heavy enough to withstand gunfire,” Masters wrote in a release.
Further, he said that the Halle community received funding from the Jewish Federation partner Jewish Agency for Israel Security Assistance Fund to train congregants about what to do in the event of an active shooter incident or other security emergency.
“We know … that having active threat/shooter training can save lives,” according to SCN.
Lastly, the leader of the Jewish community in Halle, Max Privorozki, had made multiple requests to police to provide security for the synagogue, the SCN release explained. However, police were not present when the attacker tried to force his way in.
“Building relationships with local law enforcement is critical to synagogue security,” explained SCN. “Engaging with law enforcement – and inviting them to community events – is a simple way to increase a police presence, develop a partnership and build trust.”
The alleged shooter, 27-year-old Stephan Balliet, killed two people who were outside the synagogue: Jana Lange, 50, and Kevin S., 20.