Brussels Jews Report Great Relief Ahead of Shavuot

Philip Markovich, President of Great Synagogue of Brussels, says terrorist's capture brought relief, security still high for Obama visit.

Chaim Lev, Ari Yashar ,

Entrance to the Jewish Museum of Brussels
Entrance to the Jewish Museum of Brussels

A leader of the Brussels Jewish community reports an ease in tension after the capture of Mehdi Nemmouche last Friday. The 29-year-old Frenchman claimed responsibility in a video for the shooting last Saturday at the Jewish Museum of Brussels. 

Philip Markovich, President of the Great Synagogue of Brussels located adjacent to the Jewish Museum in the Belgian capital, acknowledged the arrest has returned a sense of security absent since the attack.

"Jews of Brussels feel a great sense of relief after the terrorist's capture," Markovich was quoted as saying on Monday in the hareidi paper Hamevaser.

The Jewish leader continued "it can be said that in the last week there has been tension and fear from the fact that the murderer was going about freely, and could G-d forbid have attacked again. Now Jews in Brussels and all Belgium can celebrate the Shavuot holiday with joy and security."

Markovich added that while official news of the arrest was only published on Sunday, he had been informed of it as early as last Friday. He stated that the reason behind the leak was the desire among authorities in Brussels to calm and reassure the Jewish community ahead of the Shavuot holiday, which starts this Tuesday.

However, Markovich added that orders had not been given to remove the heavy security arrangements around Jewish institutions and schools in Brussels and throughout Belgium.

The Jewish leader remarked that security presence and preparedness was at a peak at Jewish institutions, and particularly the Great Synagogue, given US President Barack Obama's anticipated visit during the course of the week. Obama apparently will visit the Jewish Museum in a gesture of support for the victims.

Markovich's comments about the fear in Brussels echoes statements by Raphael Werner, President of the Belgian FORUM der Joodse Organisaties (Forum of Jewish Organizations, FJO), who accompanied to Israel the bodies of Miriam and Emmanuel Riva, the two Israelis murdered in the attack which claimed four lives total.

"There's a certain panic, especially when you see all these police around schools, synagogues," Werner told Arutz Sheva. "On one side it's very good, it should be done, but it gives you a certain very bad sensation that you have to be protected in a free country, and still after what happened in the Holocaust that we have to be protected."