Dan Uzan – a walking mezuza

Dan Uzan, who was shot outside a Copenhagen synagogue, was a 'hero without tefilin'

This afternoon the Jewish community of Copenhagen and the people of Denmark and the Jewish people as a whole will be burying one of its sons. Dan Uzan.

Like the Mezuza Dan stood tall and proud at the door of Jewish institutions and welcomed people with a firm but friendly demeanour.

He always had a pleasant smile. A good word a warm handshake. He was tall and big and loved sports. Enjoyed a good laugh and joke. His size and demeanor meant that when you saw him at the door you were reassured of your safety. You knew that this was a person who was serious about protecting.

That was was where he was on the last night of his young life.

The atmosphere in the street that night was tense, and as I was heading out from the Bat mitzva, I said to him, Dan, why are you here on the street, stay inside. His response. “We have to be proactive, make sure the police are here, and check the cars etc”. A quick handshake and I left. A short while later he fell In the line of duty, protecting those inside.

The Jewish community in Denmark in Europe and all around the world has many such Mezuzos. Younger or older, men and women, who stand in the heat and in the cold in the rain and in the sleet. Just like the mezuza, standing at the door to the Jewish home or center, keeping it warm and safe inside.

They participate knowing that it gives a sense of security to the community. hoping that the time and warm toes sacrificed will be enough. But with Dan it was not to be.

The Lubavitcher rebbitzen, once spoke of the young people she saw after World War Two working to bring people to israel. The aliye bet people. Selflessly and without consideration for themselves.  Truth be told many of them were not that religious. Her description of them was “Tzadikim without Tefilin.”

Tzadikim, righteous people, because of the amazing work and dedication of what they are doing. Without tefilin, because they may have not put on tefilin a day. But still tzadikim!

The young men and women of the security group of Denmark and around the world are truly “tzadikim” whether  with or without tefillin.

Dan Uzan is a true hero, died protecting the Jewish community.
An inspiration for us all and a symbol of the appreciation that we should have for all those standing out in that position. Those “tzadikim.”

About the Author
Rabbi Yitzi Loewenthal is the director of ChabaDanmark, The Danish branch of Chabad Lubavitch. He has lived in Copenhagen with his wife Rochel and their children since 1996. ChabaDanmark is a center servicing educational social and religious needs for Jews in Denmark.