Hundreds of Germans form ‘human shield’ to protect synagogue as residents report antisemitic incidents


(JTA) — An estimated 350 people stood outside of Berlin’s Frankelufer Synagogue on Friday to symbolically protect it during a day that the Hamas terror group deemed a time for international protest action against Israel.

The synagogue’s protective gate — erected to protect the building during terror threats in recent decades — was hung with about 40 posters bearing the names and photos of people kidnapped and held hostage by Hamas, including a six month old baby.

Jewish communities had feared possible threats on Friday in response to Hamas’ call, even though the FBI and major Jewish security groups had not identified any specific causes of concern. Antisemitic incidents online and offline have spiked throughout much of Western Europe since the start of the Israel-Hamas conflict on Oct. 7.

In Germany, police are investigating a case of graffiti after a resident reported that someone had painted a Star of David on an apartment building door on Thursday. The building is located in the city’s Prenzlauer Berg district, which is home to many of the estimated 10,000 Israeli living in Germany’s capital.

According to news reports, police believe the incident was politically motivated. It is not known whether Jews lived in the apartment building.

According to Radio Berlin-Brandenburg, police reported two new cases of Star of David graffiti in Berlin on Sunday, on residential buildings on Paul-Linke-Ufer in the Kreuzberg district, and on a wheelchair ramp in Friedrichshain. In the Hellersdorf district, youth set an Israeli flag on fire, the outlet reported.

The Israeli embassy commented on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter, that the graffiti “brings back the worst memories, especially in Germany,” where Jews were forced to wear identifying yellow stars during the Holocaust.

Despite extra security measures, many Jewish parents in Berlin reportedly kept their children at home on Friday instead of sending them to Jewish schools.

“Today is a day of fear for Jews around the world and here in Germany,” German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier said during a visit on Friday afternoon to the Frankeluefer Synagogue.

Recommended from JTA