Recently the City Council of Siena, Italy has taken a stand against antisemitism. Last Friday, thanks to the efforts of our Diplomatic Corps Member David Fiorentini, together with the Italian Union of Jewish Students – UGEI and the party Forza Italia, the IHRA working definition of antisemitism has been fully adopted. An important step towards a coherent and structured fight against the growing virus of antisemitism. We congratulate David and his partners for this excellent effort to help safeguard Jewish life in Europe.
As ban on kosher slaughter takes hold in most of Belgium, Rabbi Menachem Margolin wants that legislation in some countries on the continent are making Jews feel like second class citizens
The latest ban on kosher slaughter in Europe is just another restriction placed on the continent’s Jews and adds to the sense that the community is not wanted, says the head of the European Jewish Association (EJA).
“This is a true tragedy for the entire Jewish community,” says Rabbi Menachem Margolin, regarding the recent prohibition of kosher slaughter in the Wallonia region of Belgium
The Wallonia ban joins a prohibition on kosher slaughter in the northern Flanders region of Belgium, making the Jewish ritual effectively illegal in two thirds of the country, where more than 40,000 Jews reside.
The rabbi, himself a Belgian citizen, sees growing restrictions and limitations on the rights of the European Jewish communities all over
the continent, and does not accept the humanitarian reasons legislators cling to in explaining the ban on kosher slaughter.
“Hunting for fun and sport is still allowed in Belgium,” Margolin tells Ynet. “More animals are killed by hunting across Belgium than by kosher slaughter, not to mention the problemetic conditions of regular slaughter, which are allowed throughout the country.
“From the way the animals are transported to the food they eat and the conditions they live in, there are endless problems regarding the treatment of animals in Belgium. Jewish people care for the animals, and kosher slaughter is much more humane then any other forms of slaughter.”
Although anti-Semitism in Europe is on the rise, Margolin doesn’t see it as the reason for the new law; instead he blames political lobbyists.
“The real tragedy is the fact that the politicians who were so moved by the animal rights lobbyists ignored the pleas of the Jewish community, and this kind of law makes the entire Jewish population of the country feel unwelcome.”
A kosher restaurant in Antwerp, Belgium (photo: AP)
The rabbi says that the new legislation makes Jews feel unwanted in Europe.
“The main issue is not the meat itself – we can eat fish and pasta if we want – it’s whether we feel safe and wanted, it’s whether we need to find another place to live,” he says.
“Some of the countries in Europe, whether on purpose or not, give their local Jewish communities the feeling they’re not wanted in their own country, like they’re second-class citizens, like they have less rights than other citizens. This is indeed a tragedy.”
But, Margolin says, European Jews cannot surrender in the battle for their religious rights.
“We need to work very hard, and even now, we’re not giving up,” he says. “We successfully prevented the ban on kosher slaughter and circumcision in Holland, Poland and other countries, I’m sure this time we’ll succeed as well.”
Margolin is also doubtful that the changes in law will push members of the Jewish communtiy to move to Israel.
“People don’t usually want to move unless they have a noose around their neck,” he says.
The article was published on Ynet News
In response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Jewish organizations are directing aid for tens of thousands of Jews living in the embattled country, assisting refugees who are fleeing the fighting and helping area Jews who have been trying or are hoping to immigrate to Israel.
Below is a partial list of organizations that have ramped up ongoing efforts in the region or opened emergency mailboxes since the start of the war.
• The Jewish Federations of North America has an emergency mailbox for helping people immigrate to Israel, securing the local Ukrainian community and its institutions and maintaining critical welfare services, among other needs.
• The American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee has a longstanding presence in the country, assisting impoverished seniors and supporting a network of Jewish community centers and social service agencies.
• The American Jewish Committee’s emergency #StandWithUkraine fund is pledging to direct 100 percent of the funds to those meeting urgent needs in Ukraine, including IsraAID, the rapid response Israeli relief agency, which is assisting refugees of all backgrounds in neighboring Moldova.
• HIAS is working through channels within the US and throughout Europe to support the safe and speedy resettlement of those seeking to leave Ukraine.
• The Jewish Agency for Israel has opened an emergency hotline to provide Ukrainian Jews with guidance and information regarding the immigration process, as well as general assistance.
• The Chabad-Lubavitch movement has a Ukraine Jewish Relief Fund.
• Masorti Olami has a fund for Ukrainian Relief.
• UJA-Federation of New York has a dedicated mailbox supporting its partners providing humanitarian needs in Ukraine.
• Project Kesher is currently supporting an Emergency Fund for Women in Ukraine.
• Agudath Israel has a Ukraine Emergency Relief fund that has raised $10 million as of March 10.
• United Hatzalah of Israel has sent medical professionals to Ukraine’s borders in Operation Orange Wings. Donations to their fund help deliver medical care to Ukraine.
• JRoots runs heritage trips to Poland to tell the story of the Holocaust. Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, it has repurposed to assist Ukrainian refugees into Poland and settle abroad. Contact Ayelet at +972 54-636-6512
• First-responder group IsraAID is on the scene as thousands of Ukrainians seek refuge in Moldova. IsraAID is providing psychological first aid and distributing essential relief supplies. Donations towards emergency support for Ukrainian refugees can be made here.
• Magen David Adom, Israel’s branch of Red Cross International, has established a Russian-language refugee call center. Donations can be made here.
• Hadassah, The Women’s Zionist Organization of America has opened a fund, “Ukraine in Crisis: Save Lives at Risk!” in support of the Hadassah Medical Organization, which is already treating Ukrainian refugees at its centers in Israel.
• The Brussels-based European Jewish Association (EJA), representing hundreds of communities across the continent, has launched a Europe-wide campaign to temporarily provide homes, food and clothing to hundreds of Jewish families whose lives have been torn-apart and up-ended by the conflict in Ukraine. For further information contact: +32 (0)476056450
• The Orthodox Union has opened a Ukraine Crisis Fund to support individuals and organizations assisting people on the ground in Ukraine.
• World Jewish Relief has been working in Ukraine for the last 30 years, and has helped 13,000 older and more vulnerable Ukrainians within and beyond the Jewish community in the past year alone. Its Ukraine Crisis Appeal is raising funds to support the organization’s 29 partners in Ukraine, along with partners in neighboring Moldova and Poland, which are providing food, cash, medical, material and psychological support to those fleeing or unable to escape the violence.
• The World Union for Progressive Judaism has launched the Ukraine Crisis Fund to support the safety and well-being of the Ukrainian Jewish community.
• Keren Hayesod – United Israel Appeal is working with the Jewish Agency and the Israeli government to expedite immigration to Israel for Ukrainian Jews, as well as assist the Jewish community remaining in Ukraine with essential goods such as food, supplies, security and other necessities.
The European Jewish Association is proud and delighted to welcome another organisation to our growing roster of partners and communities.
We have just concluded and signed a memorandum of understanding with The Kiev Jewish Community and Association of Jewish Communities in Ukraine.
We are sure that this cooperation will bring with it beautiful and important accomplishments. We look forward to working for the betterment of Dutch and European Jewry together.