(JR) — Unknown perpetrators threw two Molotov cocktails at a Berlin synagogue early on Wednesday morning, leading German Chancellor Olaf Scholz to declare that “antisemitism has no place in Germany.”
“We will never accept when attacks are carried out against Jewish institutions,” Scholz said during a trip to Egypt tied to the escalating tensions of the Israel-Hamas war.
The firebombs landed on the sidewalk and caused no damage, the synagogue’s congregation reported on the social media platform X, formerly known as Twitter.
As officers were investigating the incident on the scene later Wednesday morning, a young man on an electric scooter wearing a Palestinian scarf raced through a police barricade toward the door of the community center and tried to pull something from his pocket. He was arrested after a struggle in which he reportedly shouted antisemitic and anti-Israel slogans.
“We are all shocked by this terrorist attack,” said Josef Schuster, president of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, in a press statement.
The Kahal Adass Jisroel community complex in Berlin’s Mitte neighborhood houses a synagogue, a kindergarten, a yeshiva school and a community center.
Parents brought their children to the kindergarten Wednesday morning despite the incident. A community member told Spiegel magazine that “we shouldn’t panic.”
Antisemitic incidents are on the rise across Europe in reaction to the Middle East conflict, and security for Jewish institutions has increased.
“The families around the synagogue are shocked and unsettled,” Schuster said in his press statement.
Some police officers were injured, authorities said Wednesday, after they clashed with Muslim immigrants at rallies overnight in multiple Berlin neighborhoods and at the city’s famed Brandenburg Gate.
“Security measures for Jewish institutions in Berlin have rightly been increased. And probably even worse things could have been prevented for the time being,” said Gideon Joffe, head of the Jewish Community of Berlin, in a statement. “But despite everything, Jews in our city no longer feel safe.”
The Jewish Community of Berlin announced Wednesday that Friedrich Merz, the head of Germany’s conservative Christian Democratic Party and a member of parliament, will visit the community’s Jewish high school on Friday to speak with some of its 500 students about their experiences with antisemitism and about Jewish life in Berlin. The school has both Jewish and non-Jewish pupils.
“The anti-Jewish violence on the streets of Berlin has reached a new dimension,” Joffe said in his statement, adding that “It is now up to civil society to show solidarity with the Jewish community.”
The Orthodox Kahal Adass Jisroel synagogue was opened in 2014 at the site of the former Beth Zion synagogue, which dated back to the mid-19th century. It is not part of the official Jewish Community of Berlin umbrella but is one of several independent congregations in the city today.