The Times We Live In

Thoughts about the news as reported in The New York Times about the attack in Copenhagen.  On Saturday, February 14th, a Danish film director was killed in a café and a Danish Jewish night guard at a synagogue. The gunman, Danish born, was killed by return fire before dawn on February 15th.

The Prime minister of Denmark, Helle Thorning-Schmidt, called it “a fight for freedom against a dark ideology.”

Denmark is a country known for having some of the happiest people in the world.

Having visited Copenhagen, I thoroughly agree.  The people smile at one another, they ride bicycles throughout the city, their homes are decorated in cheerful colors.

I had the pleasure of visiting Copenhagen where I met Lyle’s cousin, Arne Melchior, son of  Marcus Melchior, then the chief rabbi of Denmark.  Now his relative, Jair Melchior, is chief rabbi following in the family tradition of other Melchiors who have been rabbis.

During World War II, Arne, among others, rode their bicycles through Copenhagen streets alerting people to leave for safety in Sweden.  When the war ended the Danes could not have thought some of them would again live in fear under a shadow that seems to grow darker by the day.

We published “A Rabbi Remembers” by Rabbi Marcus Melchior and “There is Something Wonderful in the State of Denmark” by Arne Melchior under the Lyle Stuart, Inc. imprint.

Below, a response to my email to Arne Melchior and his wife, Nina.  Nina wrote:

Dear Carole,

Thank you for sharing our sorrow in these days.

Denmark stands united. For now more than 24 hours people show their sympathy.

Thousands of Christian and Jewish people lay flowers at the place where a meeting for freedom of speech was held Saturday afternoon, and where a film photographer was killed. And thousands of Danes, Jews and non-Jews gather at the gates of the Synagogue where they place flowers for the Jewish young man Dan Uzan, who was murdered while on duty as a voluntary guard for a bat mitzvah party after shabbat. They also gather in respect for the right of their Jewish citizens to live in peace.

Tonight there has been a spontaneous gathering in the Synagogue, crowded to the last space of floor. Even Arne (now 90 years) and I attended this gathering.

From there most Jews went to another public gathering at the place of the first event of terror this weekend. In freezing weather outdoors there was music and there were speeches, one of which was delivered by the head of the Jewish community. Television was sent live showing 40.000 people gathered in mourning, a number that is exceptional for Denmark.

This same evening there are people meeting in most towns all around in Denmark. Never since the German Occupation has Denmark been that united.


Arne and Nina