TORAH THOUGHTS: Dan Uzan-a Walking Mezuzah

In tribute to the Jewish volunteer security guard killed outside a Copenhagen synagogue

By Rabbi Yitzchok Loewenthal

Dan Uzan

This afternoon the Jewish community of Copenhagen, the people of Denmark, and the Jewish people as a whole buried one of its sons: Dan Uzan.

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

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

The atmosphere in the street that night was tense, and as I was heading out from the bat mitzvah he'd been protecting, I said to him, "Dan, why are you here on the street? Come inside." His response: "We have to be proactive to 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 his people.That was where he was on the last night of his young life.

The Jewish community in Denmark and Jewish communities all around the world have many such mezuzahs. 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 mezuzah, they stand at the door to the Jewish home or institution, keeping it welcoming and safe inside.

They volunteer 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.

It is told that the Rebbetzin Chaya Mushka Schneerson, of righteous memory, once spoke of the young people who operated in Europe to clandestinely spirit Jews into Mandate Palestine. The aliyah bet people. Selflessly and without consideration for themselves. Truth be told many of them were not that religious. She called them "tzadikim without tefillin."

Tzadikim, righteous people, because of their amazing work and dedication. Without tefillin, because they may have not worn tefillin regularly. 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 genuine hero who 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

As for the rest of us, we can still do something for Dan and for our brethren all over. We can put on tefillin, light Shabbat candles and do other mitzvahs in their merit.

Those tzadikim.