Jewish communities across the UK are being told to “keep doors closed and locked” at their synagogues in the wake of recent security threats against Jewish places of worship in Europe.

The Community Security Trust, which overseas security for synagogues and Jewish centres in the UK, made the recommendation on Friday in a statement back by six synagogue movements and the Office of the Chief Rabbi.

The decision to issue such a warning comes after anti-Semitic attacks against synagogues in Europe, in particular Germany. The most notable was earlier this month when a far-right gunman tried to gain entry to a synagogue in Halle, shooting the door and trying to blow up the gate. Despite his arsenal of weapons he was unable to break into the synagogue (as shown in the video below) thanks to do the doors being locked and secured. This no doubt saved the lives of the Jewish congregants. Sadly, the gunman killed a female passer by and a man at a nearby kebab shop.

Other incidents related to security at synagogues include a Syrian refugee earlier this month entering a synagogue in Germany, armed with a knife and shouting “Allahu Akbar” and “F*** Israel”. Guards at the synagogue used pepper spray to subdue and disarm him before he could attack anyone.

The full instructions from CST read as follows:

We all want our synagogues to be warm and welcoming, but terrorist attacks against places of worship are a sad reality of modern life.

One of the most effective ways of preventing a terrorist attack inside your synagogue is for the doors to be locked and closed. This is simple. It can be done by anyone and it will help save lives: exactly as happened at the synagogue in Halle, Germany on Yom Kippur, when a closed, locked door, saved dozens of lives.

Doors should be kept closed. They should be closed even if security personnel are standing guard, either inside or outside the synagogue. Doors should then be opened to let congregants and visitors into and out of the synagogue.

CST and our synagogue partners strongly advise the following:

  • Keep doors and gates closed and locked at all times
  • Only open the door to people that you are happy to invite inside
  • Be alert of suspicious people and report any suspicious activity to Police and CST
  • When doors or gates are temporarily opened to allow community members or visitors in or out, the door should be manned by someone responsible who knows how to close the door

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