Following the attacks at the airport and subway station in Brussels Tuesday morning, the Jewish community has cancelled its Purim celebrations at the behest of the police.
Over a thousand members of the Jewish community were supposed to attend the megillah reading (reading of the Book of Esther - ed.) at the Great Synagogue of Europe followed by a performance by the Gat Brothers who arrived from Israel for the occasion. Instead, the community will hold smaller gatherings in order to hear the megillah reading and fulfill the mitzvah (commandment -ed.) of Purim.
Rabbi Menachem Margolin, Head of the European Jewish Association, told Ynet that the decision to cancel the events was done at the request of the police due to the police's fear of additional terrorists in the area.
"The police said that they are unable to protect the event while the city is in a state of war," he said.
The Chief Rabbi of Belgium and representative of the European Council of Rabbis to the EU Avraham Gigi said that "we are in a state of fear because we don't know what will happen tomorrow."
He continued by saying that while the attack was going on, he was speaking to non-Jewish students at the Great Synagogue of Europe. "They were seized by fear," the rabbi said, "but the guards stationed permanently at the synagogue helped to calm them down."
The Belgian Chief Rabbi "sends the condolences of the entire Belgian Jewish community to the families of the victims, and wish the injured a speedy recovery."
This is a declaration of war
The President of the Conference of European Rabbis, Rabbi Pinchas Goldschmidt, said that "the rabbis of Europe stand united in prayer with the families of those murdered,and with those injured in the terror attack in Brussels."
"This terror attack is a declaration of war by these Islamo-fascist terrorists against the capial of the EU, and against the freedoms and values of Europe," the rabbi said.
He added that "in synagogues around the world the story of Esther is read this week - a story of the fight between the forces of light and darkness, which will end only by recognizing and knowing without a doubt who the enemy is, and by destroying that enemy. We pray that the EU will know how to join forces in order to fight against the forces of evil, of darkness, and of terror in Belgium, on the internet, in the mosques, and on the streets."