Axe Thrown Through Window of Belgrade Jewish Cemetery Chapel

November 28, 2021

A Jewish cemetery in Belgrade, Serbia was vandalized Wednesday night, when an axe, hammer and stones were thrown through the window of its chapel.
A spokesperson for the Jewish Community of Belgrade told The Algemeiner that the incident had caused serious material damage, noting that if the chapel had been occupied, it could have resulted in “severe physical injuries or even death.”
The spokesperson said that “this act reminds us of Kristallnacht,” the Nazi-led riots against the German Jewish community in 1938.
On Thursday, European Jewish Association Chairman Rabbi Menachem Margolin wrote to Serbia’s Minister of Internal Affairs, calling for a full investigation.

“It is clear that whoever was responsible has no respect for the dead, never mind the living,” Margolin said in a statement. “We extend our support to our Jewish brothers and sisters in Belgrade and Serbia as a whole, who must be reeling at this attack, and feeling vulnerable.”

“I have written to Serbian minister of Internal Affairs asking for a robust response to the attack, as well as a full throated condemnation, lest the antisemites that carried out this act believe that it is now open season on Jewish buildings in Serbia.”

The vandalism is the latest in a series of antisemitic incidents to hit the Belgrade Jewish community. The Jewish Community told The Algemeiner of repeated antisemitic harassment against a prominent Jewish epidemiologist, including graffiti that compared him to the infamous Nazi doctor Josef Mengele, as well as demonstrations outside the epidemiologist’s home in which demonstrators wore yellow Stars of David.
Threats of a second Holocaust have also been received at the Community’s Facebook page, as well as Nazi symbols, antisemitic emails, and other threats.

Axe Thrown Through Window of Belgrade Jewish Cemetery Chapel


 

Additional Articles

Simcha Shel Mitzvah, Words by Rabbi Margolin

This week I spent a lot of time going to events marking the Shoah in Brussels. They were, rightly and fittingly, solemn occasions. But here’s the thing: at every event, I found my fellow Jews talking together, smiling, sharing stories and there was even the odd joke or two.
Even at this darkest of commemorations, there was life and a celebration of the deep bond between us that transcends the shared pain and history. And it stood in stark contrast to the others present who were sombre faced and bore the weight of history in a very different way.
It seemed to me that the reminder to stay positive and rejoice in your Judaism that I tried to leave you with last week needn’t have been said, as it was clearly and demonstrably in evidence.
Because when you think of it, and you delve a bit deeper into our faith, the reason becomes clear: Joy (Simcha), is our central artery, feeding our heart and mind and driving us forward.
Moses after leading us through trying times, through hardship, rebellion and our complaining, understood us well when he said that it is our capacity for joy that gives the Jewish People the strength to endure.
Explaining to a non-Jew our holidays often ends with the cliché “they tried to kill us, let’s eat”, but this throwaway comment masks a more fundamental truth.
Let’s pick a holiday out at random…Sukkot for instance.
On Sukkot we leave the security and comfort of our houses and live in a shack exposed to the wind, the cold and the rain. Yet we call it zeman simchatenu, “our season of joy”.
Try another: Purim.
On the face of it a deeply depressing story, and yet we overcame, and boy, do we celebrate!
Time and time again, throughout our texts, we are enjoined to celebrate life, to rejoice.
Now either we are a bunch of deeply weird people who seem to thrive on adversity, orsomething deeper is going on here. You don’t need to guess what side I’m going to lean on. But let’s dwell on the ‘weird’ idea for a minute.
The founder of the Chassidic movement was once asked: "Why is it that Chassidim burst into song and dance at the slightest provocation? Is this the behaviour of a healthy, sane individual?"
The Baal Shem Tov responded with a story about a deaf man coming across a group of townspeople dancing to a musician that he hadn’t seen, and he thought they had gone mad.
The point is, without the context, such expressions of joy can appear disconcerting or perplexing.
Our context runs deep. We are commanded to Love the Lord our G-d with all our heart and all our soul and all our might. Moses as we touched upon earlier put Joy at the heart of Judaism (even as he was reading out the curses), and our Mitzvot? Well, the concept of simcha shel mitzvah, the "joy of a mitzvah," has always been part and parcel of Jewish teachings.
Rabbi Lord Sachs, as eloquent as always, once told a story that toward the end of his life, having been deaf for twenty years, Beethoven composed one of the greatest pieces of music ever written, his Ninth Symphony. It became the West’s first choral symphony. The words he set to music were Schiller’s Ode to Joy.
Now, Ode to Joy, as any Europhiles reading this will know, is the anthem for the European Union. And Rabbi Sachs story came to mind as I was looking at the European flag at one of the events.
Because looking around the room, looking at my fellow Jews smiling, living, rejoicing in their Judaism at this tragic commemoration, and contrasting it with the others present, underlined to me not only the context I was just talking about, but how each of us, each Jew, has, as Rabbi Sachs alluded to, their own ‘ode to Joy’ within them, an ode that to those who are deaf to it might indeed appear odd, but to us comes not as second nature, but instead as the primary essence of our being.
Rabbi Menachem Mendel of Lubavitch wrote that "The Baal Shem Tov wiped away tears from the Jewish people. He worked hard to ensure that every Jew would be happy simply because he is a Jew.”
There’s still a lot more work to be done on this by all of us, but looking around the room at those various events, it was clear to me that the joy of being a Jew remains the ‘perfect defeat’ of the Holocaust, and a reminder, if one were needed, of what a beautiful thing it is to be Jewish.
We must always continue to go out with Joy.

German antisemitism Czar comments about public kippah wearing are a “surrender to hate” say EU Jewish Heads

“Is this the solution? Will the next advice be for me to cut off my beard? Or change my name?” asks Chief Rabbi Jacobs.
EU Jewish Association (EJA) Chairman Rabbi Menachem Margolin and Head of Governmental relations for the Rabbinical Centre of Europe Chief Rabbi Binyomin Jacobs (Netherlands) today expressed their disappointment and alarm at comments made by Germany’s respected antisemitism co-ordinatior, Dr Felix Klein, where he said that he wouldn’t advise Jews to wear Kippot (skullcaps) in some parts of the country.

The heads, representing hundreds of communities across Europe, said the comments, however well-intended towards the safety of Jews in Germany amounted to a policy of a surrender towards hate.
In a statement EJA head Rabbi Margolin said,
“It is with disappointment and alarm that I read the comments of Dr. Felix Klein. It is clear that through his work he has put the safety and welfare of the Jewish Community in Germany first, but his latest comments are a surrender to hate.
Jews cannot surrender to those who despise us. We do not alter who we are to placate the basest instincts of humanity. Dr Klein’s solution appears to be hide everything that is Jewish and then there is no antisemitism. This is a dangerous position to adopt and the EJA repudiates it in the strongest possible terms.”
Chief Rabbi Jacobs added:
“Dr Klein rightly points out the problem of antisemitism in Germany, but his well meant advice is not, to my humble opinion, the solution at all. What is next? Should I shave off my beard? Change my name? This is the road where his comments lead to. My own parents had to hide during the Nazi period. I simply refuse to hide today, nor should anyone, least of all the man tasked with fighting antisemitism in Germany, be asking us to do just that.”
Read more in dutch HERE

Meeting with Ambassador of Bosnia and Herzegovina to the EU, H.E. Madam Emina Merdan, and the Mission's Minister-Counselor, Ms. Miranda Sidran

Yesterday, the European Jewish Association has had the honour of welcoming at its headquarters the Ambassador of Bosnia and Herzegovina to the European Union, H.E. Madam Emina Merdan, and the Mission's Minister-Counselor, Ms. Miranda Sidran.

Her Excellency has presented the EJA's Chairman, Rabbi Menachem Margolin, the original of the Rosh Hashanah congratulatory letter received earlier from H.E. Dr. Denis Zvizdić, Chairman of the Council of Ministers of Bosnia and Herzegovina. H.E. Madam Ambassador has also expressed and conveyed H.E. Mr. Chairman's condolences regarding the Wednesday shooting near a synagogue in the German city of Halle, resulting in the tragic deaths of two people nearby.

During the meeting, we have in particular discussed Bosnia and Herzegovina: the country's tragic recent past, its modern European aspirations, the multicultural and multi-religious nature of its society as well as the local Jewish community, having its roots in the Sephardic Jews fleeing from Spain more than five centuries ago.

The Jewish community of Bosnia and Herzegovina, especially if compared to many others throughout Europe, is quite special - there have never been any ghettos here, with the Jews always having been considered an integral part of the local society, with no inherent Antisemitism carried by their neighbours and compatriots. While the modern Bosnian Jewish community is much smaller than it used to be, it is very active, while the heritage of Ladino is carefully preserved. In turn, established in 1997, the Interreligious Council of Bosnia and Herzegovina unites representatives of the Catholic and Orthodox Christians, Muslims and Jews - working together to build a better future.

Potential cooperation between the Mission and the EJA has also been discussed - both sides have expressed sincere interest in further dialogue and carefully exploring such possibilities of collaboration on topics of common interest and concern. We are very grateful to Her Excellency for this visit and wish H.E. Ambassador Merdan the best of luck and much energy in her important work.

Meeting with H.E. Madam Ilga Šuplinska, Minister for Education and Science of the Republic of Latvia

Earlier last week, on 6 November 2019, the European Jewish Association and our partners from the Action and Protection Foundation /Hungary/ and Association “Shamir” /Latvia/ have come together to further promote the ongoing Europe-wide initiative on the European Curriculum and Textbook Project against Antisemitism. This time the meeting brought us to the Gem of the Baltics – Rīga, the enchanting capital of the Republic of Latvia.

At the meeting, where the EJA has been represented by Mihails Vorobeičiks-Mellers (Political Affairs Adviser), the APF by Kálmán Szalai (Secretary) and Shamir by Rabbi Menahems Barkahans (Chairman) and Jūlija Tereščenko (Project Manager), we have had a chance to meet with H.E. Madam Ilga Šuplinska, Minister for Education and Science of the Republic of Latvia, and members of her staff.

The meeting took place at a beautiful Jugendstil building constructed back in 1911, which the Ministry occupies since 1938. Besides the earlier Hungarian experience, the system of education in Latvia has been discussed, particularly the various curricular and extra-curricular initiatives and programmes already implemented or currently planned by the educational authorities and other entities, such as NGOs, and which are related to different aspects of Jewish studies in the country, and thus the project’s area of topical coverage.

Differently from other meetings, this one has taken place in two languages – English and Latvian. As a result, the overall tone of the conversation became somewhat more personal, with a variety of first-hand experiences having been brought up by the EJA’s representative, taken from his own school years as well as Jewish studies back home. In turn, Rabbi Barkahan has described Shamir’s very active long-time work and accomplishments in the latter field.

In the course of the discussion, several areas of possible cooperation have been identified, including on the composition of new academic materials for school pupils. Moreover, interest in potential event collaboration both in Latvia and abroad has been indicated.

We are deeply grateful to H.E. Minister Šuplinska and the Ministry of Education and Science for the interest, time and the opportunity to hold this important discussion, not to mention for being such welcoming hosts. We very much look forward to further contacts on the present initiative and other subjects of common interest and concern.

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