Brussels Jewish Community Scales Down Purim Celebrations

Islamic terror in Brussels

An Israeli man offers costumes before the upcoming Jewish holiday of Purim. (Nati Shohat/Flash 90)

An Israeli man offers costumes before the upcoming Jewish holiday of Purim. (Nati Shohat/Flash 90)

Fearing for their safety, Jews in Brussels have canceled a large Purim party and are keeping a low profile since the latest Islamic State terror attacks.

The Brussels Jewish community is scaling down celebrations for the Purim holiday on Wednesday and Thursday as Belgium recovers from Tuesday’s bombing attacks that killed 34 people. The Islamic State terror group has claimed responsibility for the attacks.

“We are going have sad days during Purim, without any celebrations,” Brussels resident Shimon Bartoloz told Israel Hayom. “These are definitely dark days for us, and we are very concerned walking the streets. We will have modest gatherings inside our homes [to mark Purim].”

After the attacks, the Belgian Jewish community set up a sort of situation room, where the community and security leaders meet to receive safety instructions, which they then pass on to Jewish citizens in the country.

Two Belgian Jews were lightly wounded in Tuesday’s blasts and were taken to the local hospital for treatment. Belgian security officials reached out to Jewish community leaders, asking them to keep any Purim festivities small.

‘Not Taking Unnecessary Risks’

“There was supposed to be a big Purim party with 1,000 guests who would read the Scroll of Esther together, but instead, there will only be small events,” said Rabbi Menachem Margolin, head of the European Jewish Association and a Brussels resident. “Preparedness has gone up a level.”

Rabbi Menachem Margolin

Rabbi Menachem Margolin, General Director of the European Jewish Association. (AP/Petr David Josek)

Margolin added that since there are concerns about potential future attacks, the local Jewish community “is not taking unnecessary risks.”

Rabbi Levi Matusof, the European Union’s director of Jewish public affairs, passes by the site of Tuesday’s Brussels Metro bombing on a regular basis.

“Luckily, I was called to Paris from Brussels for work at the last minute on [Sunday] night, and I managed to avoid the disaster,” he said.

Matusof added, “The Jewish community is shocked about these events, but also realistic [about the situation]. Still, despite the talk and concern, you are never really prepared for something like this, especially when it can happen anywhere.”

The shooting death of four innocent people at the Jewish Museum in Brussels two years ago were triggered by anti-Israel incitement and anti-Semitism, the Israeli leadership said at the time. Belgian authorities also acknowledged that the attack was racially motivated.

By: Hayom and United with Israel Staff

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Source: United with Israel