Shalom Life | March 04, 2015

Copenhagen's Jews Remember Slain Jewish Guard Dan Uzan

“He was a great guy, always loving and charismatic. He was a loyal friend”

By: Daniel Koren

Published: February 18th, 2015 in News » World

Photo: Dan Uzan

Credit: Facebook


Copenhagen is still reeling after Saturday's attack on a local synagogue, which left volunteer security guard, and beloved member of the city's close-knit Jewish community, Dan Uzan, dead.

The attack took place during a late-night bat mitzvah. As family and friends were celebrating inside, a 22-year-old Islamist extremist, with a history of criminal activity, shot Uzan as he attempted to attack the synagogue.

“Only an hour beforehand I went out to bring [Uzan] cakes and sandwiches,” Mette Bentow, the mother of the Bat Mitzvah girl, told Yedioth Ahronoth. “All of the sudden the celebration looks vain. [My daughter] Hannah told me ‘Mom, I wish I had not had a bat mitzvah and that Dan would have stayed alive.'”

The day will certainly remain a sad and bleak reminder for the young girl, the exact opposite of what a traditional Bat Mitzvah is supposed to represent.

According to Bentow, guests and children hid in the basement of the synagogue for hours after the shooting.

“We were dancing and singing, and suddenly the second guard entered and told us to turn the music down,” she said. “We were not aware that there was gunfire outside.”

Eventually, guests were escorted out through the synagogue's back door, accompanied with heavy security. They were taken to a police station, and stayed there until the next morning.

Uzan, who died protecting the community as a volunteer, has been hailed a hero of Copenhagen, particularly amongst the city's Jews. Meanwhile, while mourning, they've said no to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's request that they leave their homes in Denmark, and make aliyah to Israel.

According to friends, Uzan was a superb basketball player, had briefly lived in Israel, spoke fluent Hebrew, and had a degree in politics. Overall, it seemed that the 37-year-old was a pretty wonderful person.

“He was a person who was always willing to help. An amazing, amazing guy,” said Yair Melchior, Denmark's chief rabbi, adding that Uzan was "irreplaceable."

Adam Melchior, the rabbi's cousin, echoed his sentiments. “He was a great guy, always loving and charismatic. He was a loyal friend,” the IDF soldier told The Times of Israel on Sunday.

Uzan's family, who are very active in the community, continue to mourn the loss of their son, a tragedy that has affected the entire nation, and beyond.

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