Oslo closes traffic on street leading to city’s main synagogue


(JTA) — The city of Oslo has closed traffic permanently on the street leading to the Norwegian capital’s main synagogue.

Ervin Kohn, president of the Jewish community in Oslo and the deputy director of the Norwegian Center Against Racism, told JTA on Thursday that the decision was made following the slaying on Feb. 15 of a guard at the main synagogue of Copenhagen in Denmark.

The Jewish community of Norway, which has seen a number of threats in recent years, has long lobbied for the closure, which city officials had resisted and termed excessive.

“With this change, the security needs of the community are more or less satisfied,” Kohn said.

He also said the community planned to hold its services on the street on Saturday as hundreds of non-Jews, including many Muslims, are expected to encircle the synagogue as a gesture expressing their outrage at the shooting at the Danish synagogue by a Muslim fanatic.

The initiative, titled “Peace Ring,” was organized on Facebook and “has a chance of changing the dynamic in Scandinavia because it is grassroots and much more powerful than statements by Muslim community leaders, who have also been outspoken in condemning this violence,” Kohn said.

Police in Norway and Sweden have beefed up security around synagogues. In Sweden, police also received protective gear for their security.

Hours before the synagogue shooting in Copenhagen, the same gunman killed one person at a cafe hosting a debate featuring a cartoonist who drew cartoons lampooning Islam. The gunman was killed in a shootout with police.

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