Wednesday, March 23, 2016

After attacks, Antwerp Jews told not to wear Purim masks 

The crisis management center of the Jewish community of Antwerp urged locals not to wear masks on Purim following Tuesday's terrorist attacks in Brussels.

In addition to this instruction, the Jewish Crisis Management Team in Antwerp requested in an announcement published Tuesday that revelers, including children, refrain from carrying toy weapons or using firecrackers or any other device which produces loud bangs. 
"With the police and army on very high alert, all these cause confusion and are potentially dangerous," the announcement read.

Antwerp's Jewish quarter is among a handful of areas in Western Europe where the holiday of Purim, often referred to in Belgium as "the Jewish carnival," is celebrated publicly on the street. Thousands of members of the city's large ultra-Orthodox community take to the streets in colorful costumes on Purim.

The unusual announcement follows the terrorist attacks at Brussels' main airport, where some 14 people were killed, and at a Brussels metro station, where at least another 17 died.

A concert planned for Antwerp featuring the Gat Brothers, popular Hasidic singers from Israel, was cancelled after the singers, who were en route to Belgium when the attacks happened, were redirected to the airport of Liege south of Brussels, the website Kikar Hashabbat reported.

Two large Purim events planned for Brussels also were cancelled.

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