Synagogues across New Zealand will be closed for Shabbat services out of both a sense of solidarity as well as precaution after a shooter killed 49 worshippers at two mosques in the city of Christchurch.
“For the first time in history synagogues in NZ are closed on Shabbat following the shocking massacre of Muslims in Christchurch,” tweeted Jewish Agency chairman Isaac Herzog on Friday.
“The Jewish Agency and the NZ Jewish Council stand in solidarity with the bereaved families. We are united in fighting violent hatred and racism,” he added.
The leaders of Auckland Hebrew Congregation announced on their Facebook page that services there, as well as at other synagogues in Auckland and Wellington, would be cancelled after the shootings in Christchurch, according to The Forward.
The statement added that New Zealand Police recommended cancelling all services as the security force was “unable to guarantee us protection this evening as they mobilize to support Christchurch and well as protect Mosques throughout New Zealand.”
Earlier on Friday, Jewish groups from New Zealand and beyond expressed their horror over the massacres at the mosques in Christchurch.
The New Zealand Jewish Council said it is “sickened and devastated” by the attacks, in which at least one armed individual killed dozens of people by shooting them at close distance with a semi-automatic rifle. Footage of the carnage, which the killer filmed and streamed live, shows victims huddling and moaning as the killer fires into the crowd.”
“We offer our full assistance and support to the Muslim community and stand united with it against the scourge of terrorism and racism, which we must do all we can to banish from New Zealand,” Stephen Goodman, the president of The New Zealand Jewish Council told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency.
World Jewish Congress President Ronald S. Lauder expressed “horror and revulsion” at the attacks.
“I extend my deepest condolences to the family and loved ones of the victims, and to the people of New Zealand. We must redouble efforts to combat hatred and division in our societies, from wherever it emanates,” he wrote in a statement.
(Arutz Sheva’s North American desk is keeping you updated until the start of Shabbat in New York. The time posted automatically on all Arutz Sheva articles, however, is Israeli time.)