At least 44 dead, hundreds hurt in crush at Lag BaOmer event in northern Israel

April 30, 2021

Terrible and tragic news from Israel. Our hearts are broken at the loss of so many lives on Lag B'omer. The EJA mourns each and every life lost and extends its deepest sympathy to the families concerned. We also wish a speedy and full recovery to the many injured, some critically.

Additional Articles

Message by Frans Timmermans, First Vice-President of the European Commission on the occasion of Rosh Hashanah

It is my great pleasure to wish you, your families and friends and Jewish communities all over the world a joyful and blessed Erev Rosh Hashanah and a happy new year 5779, full of health, prosperity and success.
Rosh Hashanah is always a good time to look back at the year before, to review our deeds, an opportunity to reflect but also to revive our engagement for causes we believe in and adjust our path accordingly.
It was a challenging year for Europe and its Jewish communities as our societies were put to the test, again. We witnessed demonstrations of Jewish communities in several countries standing up against antisemitism and claiming their rights as citizens. Europe is built upon the richness of our diversity and the unity of our fundamental values. That is why I have great confidence in our collective future.
The European Commission’s relationship with Jewish communities, organisations and representatives has never been closer. This alliance makes us stronger in the battle against hatred, extremism and antisemitism. I was very honoured to receive the Lord Jakobovits Prize of European Jewry this year. I see it as a sign of trust in the bond that exists between the European Union and the Jewish communities.
With shock and sadness I recall the horrific murder of Mireille Knoll who survived the roundup at Vel d’Hiv in 1942, but not antisemitism in Europe in 2018. The European Commission was very clear that there can be no justification and we stand in full solidarity with the European Jewish communities in condemning these vile attacks in the strongest possible way.
Jews should never have to wonder whether it is safe to display their identity in their own neighbourhood, city or country. Europe must remain a place where Jewish life can flourish and Jews can freely practice their faith without fear or restrictions. It doesn’t matter where the hatred comes from, whether it is right-wing, le -wing, Islamist extremists or whether it comes masked as antizionism, we all have the obligation to stand up and speak out.
Against resurging threats, the rebirth of Jewish life in many parts of Europe is a precious gi . It filled me with pride to take part in the inauguration of the new rabbi in my own home region last year and to see the continuation of thousands of years of Jewish communities in Europe. Every new synagogue, community centre and school is a step to strengthen Jewish life, but also a step to strengthen Europe and to strengthen our societies.
We will ensure that Jewish voices continue to be heard in Europe and let me thank all of you who participated in the broadest consultation ever on challenges to Jewish life in Europe, conducted by the EU’s Fundamental Rights Agency. The results will be presented this December and will guide our policy response with the ultimate aim of ensuring the rights of Jews in Europe.
This year is also special as we celebrate two crucial moments in history: the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, enshrining the lessons for humanity from the Shoah, and the 70th anniversary of the establishment of the State of Israel, materialising the Jewish people’s dream of a Jewish homeland.
The European Union was built on the values of respect for human dignity, human rights, freedom, democracy, equality and the rule of law. We have the obligation to protect and strengthen the richness of Jewish culture and diversity and its contribution to our Europe.

Noah's Ark - A Global Lockdown, Reflections from Our Advisory Board Member Rabbi Binyomin Jacobs

Every Day during the Corona crisis our Advisory Board Member Chief Rabbi Jacobs (NL) writes a diary, on request of the Jewish Cultural Quarter in Amsterdam,  which is published on the website of the NIW, the only Jewish Dutch Magazine. Rabbi Jacobs is the head of Inter Governmental Relationships at the Rabbinical Centre of Europe. We will be regularly publishing a selection of his informative, sometimes light hearted, but always wise pieces.
This week in the Torah Portion we cover the story of Noah. Here, the Rabbi offers his unique and refreshing take on the portion. For our Dutch readers you can follow the diary every day at NIW home page: https://niw.nl and then: scroll down.
Noah's Ark - A Global Lockdown
At 8:10 am, its Shabbat and suddenly the power went out. That is always difficult, but especially on Shabbat because I cannot call a breakdown service (even if the phone would still work).
Water for coffee and tea in the Shabbat kettle was nicely turned on Friday evening before the start of Shabbat, the meal for Shabbat afternoon was simmering in the slow cooker… lighting, freezer and refrigerator, heating ..... Nothing worked anymore.
I went to the electrical box to see if the earth switch was to blame. But even if this had been the case, there was still little I could have done: Shabbat! And then my Reformatorisch Dagblad newspaper popped through the mailbox.
I immediately opened the door and reported my electrical problem to the delivery person.
They immediately understood the problem. "I'll check what's going on, because you can't do that because of Shabbat!" He immediately went into the electrical box, could not find anything out of the ordinary and then went to see if there were also problems elsewhere in the neighborhood.
Five minutes later he was back and told me the whole neighbourhood had no power. At that moment the light came on again. How happy I was with my Reformatorisch Dagblad, which not only brings the newspaper, but also the light!
And so I went with confidence to the synagogue where the beginning of Bereshit was read, including: Then God said, "Let there be light" and there was light! For a moment I felt that the self-evident is not always so self-evident!
Next Shabbat: the story of Noah. Before the outbreak of the flood, Noah was instructed by G-d to go into the Ark. And when it was dry outside he had to leave that Ark again.
Why, the question is asked, should he be ordered to leave the Ark? It was dry anyway! The answer contains an important life lesson. In the Ark there was an atmosphere of real Shalom, similar to the period after the arrival of the Moshiach, so he did not consider leaving the Ark. Why go into the world with all its worries and misery?
But G-d clearly pointed out that isolation from society is wrong. In that world with all its trials, we have the task to serve Him by making a contribution to the society surrounding us, even if closing off would be more pleasant for us personally. So, no Jewish monasteries!
But before the flood began, Noah was instructed to just enter the Ark and shut himself off from that world. Without wanting to compare corona with the Flood, there are times when we, you and I, have to be right in the middle of the world to be ready for others. But there are also periods when we are temporarily not allowed to go outside, social distance. How long do we have to stay in? We do not know.
But just as Noah did not protest and stayed in the Ark when he was required to do so, so too we must stay in, even if we find it difficult. It is too dangerous outside. We should not play with health. This coming Shabbat this will be emphasized extra in all shuls in the world. Noah Had to Enter the Ark: The First Global Lockdown!

EU plan to fight antisemitism ‘not serious,’ Jewish community leaders say

Leaders of European Jewish communities criticized the absence of reference to religious freedoms in an European Union plan to fight antisemitism and strengthen Jewish life.
“They took the easy path and failed to do the right thing,” Rabbi Menachem Margolin, the chairman of the European Jewish Association, a Brussels-based lobby group, said at a conference Tuesday about the strategic plan that the European Commission published last week.
Titled “EU Strategy on Combating Antisemitism and Fostering Jewish Life (2021-2030),” the 46-page document published Oct. 6 reiterated several long-term goals and principles of various EU institutions regarding antisemitism, including the adoption of an EU definition of it by members states and educating young people against stereotypes.
 Read More:
https://www.jpost.com/diaspora/antisemitism/eu-plan-to-fight-antisemitism-not-serious-jewish-community-leaders-say-681955

300 French personalities sign manifesto against 'new anti-Semitism'

More than 300 French dignitaries and stars have signed a manifesto denouncing a "new anti-Semitism" marked by "Islamist radicalisation" after a string of killings of Jews, to be published in Le Figaro newspaper Sunday.

The country's half-a-million-plus Jewish community is the largest in Europe but has been hit by a wave of emigration to Israel in the past two decades, partly due to the emergence of virulent anti-Semitism in predominantly immigrant neighbourhoods.
"We demand that the fight against this democratic failure that is anti-Semitism becomes a national cause before it's too late. Before France is no longer France," reads the manifesto co-signed by politicians from the left and right including ex-president Nicolas Sarkozy and celebrities like actor Gerard Depardieu.
The signatories condemned what they called a "quiet ethnic purging" driven by rising Islamist radicalism particularly in working-class neighbourhoods.
They also accused the media of remaining silent on the matter.
"In our recent history, 11 Jews have been assassinated -- and some tortured -- by radical Islamists because they were Jewish," the declaration said.
The murders referenced reach as far back as 2006 and include the 2012 deadly shooting of three schoolchildren and a teacher at a Jewish school by Islamist gunman Mohammed Merah in the southwestern city of Toulouse.
Three years later, an associate of the two brothers who massacred a group of cartoonists at satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo killed four people in a hostage-taking at a Jewish supermarket in Paris.
In April 2017, an Orthodox Jewish woman in her sixties was thrown out of the window of her Paris flat by a neighbour shouting "Allahu Akhbar" (God is greatest).
The latest attack to rock France took place last month when two perpetrators stabbed an 85-year-old Jewish woman 11 times before setting her body on fire, in a crime treated as anti-Semitic.
Her brutal death sent shockwaves through France and prompted 30,000 people to join a march in her memory.
Condemning the "dreadful" killing, President Emmanuel Macron had reiterated his determination to fighting anti-Semitism.
"French Jews are 25 times more at risk of being attacked than their fellow Muslim citizens," according to the manifesto.
It added that some 50,000 Jews had been "forced to move because they were no longer in safety in certain cities and because their children could no longer go to school".
The article was published in The Local
Additional Communities
United Kingdom
Ukraine
Schweiz
Switzerland
Spain
Slovakia
Serbia
Russia
Romania
Portugal
Poland