European Jewish Association Chairman Rabbi Menachem Margolin
The Belgian Constitutional Court upheld a ruling of the European Court of Justice that member states of the European Union can ban religious slaughter without pre-stunning. The ban voted by the Flemish and Walloon regions has been challenged by Jewish groups who argue that under freedom of religion, which is protected by the European Union as a human right, EU legislation allows exemption on religious grounds for non-stunned slaughter provided that they take place in authorised slaughterhouses, writes Yossi Lempkowicz.
“The Belgian Constitutional Court has shamefully upheld a decision that is openly hostile to a fundamental pillar of Jewish practice,’’ stated Rabbi Menachem Margolin, Chairman of the European Jewish Association, in a reaction to the decision by Belgium’s Constitutional Court on Thursday to uphold a decision by the European Court of Justice banning religious slaughter without pre-stunning, thereby also upholding a similar decision by the Belgian Walloon and Flemish regions. Lamenting the court decision, he said however that provided an opportunity for European countries to show their support to Jewish communities and protect this central tenet of faith and practice. “What gets to the Jewish Communities the most is the two-faced approach of some countries towards Jewish Communities. On the one side they are solidly supportive when it comes to the fight against antisemitism, on the other they have no difficulty in effectively legislating Jewish faith and practice out of existence. ‘ Rabbi Margolin continued, “Worse still these countries are blissfully ignorant of this massive contradiction and its catastrophic effects on Jews across Europe. This decision, if replicated, is a real threat to Jewish life across Europe. Every bit as threatening as rising antisemitism, and in a sense even worse as it directly targets the very tenets of our beliefs. Now is the time for European countries to stand behind their Jewish communities and leave Belgium isolated and an outlier of how not to treat Jews”. The European Jewish Association is a Brussels-based advocacy group representing Jewish communities across Europe.
Jewish groups challenge European Court of Justice ruling on religious slaughter
“If people are willing to attack the graves of the dead, we shudder to think what they would do to the living given the chance” add Rabbi Menachem Margolin.
Following the attack on 80 gravestones in Randers, Denmark, on Sunday, European Jewish Association Chairman Rabbi Menachem Margolin called on EU Leaders to step up security arrangements at Jewish sites and buildings and to double their efforts in education when it comes to rising antisemitism across the continent.
“We must generate a vehement and strong societal action against antisemitism, because if people are willing to attack the graves of the dead, we shudder to think what they would do to the living given the chance”, said Margolin.
“The attack at the weekend represents another episode in the rising trend of antisemitic attacks across the continent as a whole.
“I want to be clear. Governments can only do so much. The fight against antisemitism needs to be ‘ground up’, as well as ‘top down’. And that comes through education. Initiatives and activities in schools must be prioritised that clearly delineate antisemitism as a malignant symptom that must be urgently eradicated today.
“Following this latest attack, and taking into account the rising figures in Denmark and across the continent as a whole, now is also the time for Leaders across the EU to step up their security support for communities across Europe.
“We must ensure that the widespread silence and shoulder shrugging following attacks within society are replaced with concern and a vocalisation of it’s unaceptability in modern society. To this end, we are asking all EU leaders to double their efforts today.”
For the first time ever, a permanent Chief Rabbi was elected in Montenegro, in a moving ceremony with the presence of President Milo Đukanović and Israeli Minister of Religious Services Yitzhak Vaknin. Chairman of the European Jewish Association Rabbi Menachem Margolin: “President Đukanović is a true friend of the Jewish people.”
Thursday, 31 October 2019, Montenegro. A small piece of Jewish history was marked today in the capital of Montenegro, as Rabbi Ari Edelkopf was elected as the first-ever permanent Chief Rabbi of the country.
The ceremony was held in the presence of Montenegro’s President Milo Đukanović, Israeli Minister of Religious Services Yitzhak Vaknin, Chairman of the European Jewish Association Rabbi Menachem Margolin, Director of the Rabbinical Centre of Europe Rabbi Arie Goldberg, Israel’s Chief Rabbinate representative Rabbi Eliezer Simcha Weiss, President of the Montenegrin Jewish Community Đorđe Raičević, and dozens of Montenegrin ministers and MPs.
For more than two years, Rabbi Edelkopf has served as the Rabbi of Montenegro’s Jewish community, which includes over 500 Jewish families – some of whom are natives of Montenegro and others who moved to the country in recent years. During the ceremony, Rabbi Edelkopf stated that: “In Judaism to be a teacher is the biggest honour. To be giving, sharing knowledge and love! The Jewish community in Montenegro is unique, and I feel honoured to be its Rabbi. I would like to thank my wife Hana. Everything I have achieved ever as a rabbi is all thanks to her and our Rebbe, who says: “Everyone needs to share his or her knowledge with others. Even if you know only one letter, share it. With G-d’s help, we’ll all strive and aim for that.””
During the nomination ceremony, Montenegro’s President Milo Đukanović noted that: “We live in hard times. Antisemitism is on the rise, and is not only a problem for the Jewish community, but for the whole of Europe. The appointment of a chief rabbi in Montenegro is a bright spot that we are all happy about.”
Rabbi Edelkopf is a not only the Chief Rabbi of the Jewish Community, but of the entire country of Montenegro, and we will surely continue our fruitful cooperation, with the Jewish community working with him.”
“Over the years, the Montenegrin people have been very supportive of the Jewish people and many Montenegrins helped to hide Jews from the Nazis during the Holocaust. Since its declaration of independence in 2006, the various governments in the state have maintained very good relations with the Jewish community, which is reflected, among other things, in the allocation of land for building synagogues, and in the very small number of Antisemitic incidents in the country.”
Chairman of the European Jewish Association (EJA), Rabbi Menachem Margolin, who initiated the historic appointment in Montenegro thanked President Đukanović for his unquestionable support for the Jewish people, congratulated Rabbi Edelkopf on the appointment, and stated: “President Đukanović is a true friend of the Jewish people and brings with him a very rich experience in the fight against Antisemitism all over Europe. We look forward to continuing working hand in hand with him on this issue.”
Minister of Religious Services of Israel, Yitzhak Vaknin, thanked President Đukanović and the EJA’s Chairman Rabbi Menachem Margolin for their efforts to strengthen the Jewish community in Montenegro and throughout the Balkans, and noted that: “The State of Israel sees itself as an address for all the Jews of the world, both the Jews who want to make Aliyah to Israel and the Jews who choose to live in the Balkans, and we want to deepen the dialogue and cooperation with everyone.”
Director of the Rabbinical Centre of Europe, Rabbi Arie Goldberg, noted during the ceremony that: “The appointment of Rabbi Edelkopf as permanent Chief Rabbi of Montenegro will greatly contribute to strengthening the spiritual and physical infrastructure of the Jewish community in the country. We at the Rabbinical Centre of Europe will continue to assist rabbis and Jewish community leaders – small and large – throughout the continent, to grow, develop, and maintain their Jewish identity.”
Following the beginning of Israel’s operation names “Shield and Arrow” – which to date has resulted in the killing of three senior Islamic Jihad operatives in Gaza City and Rafah – we have attached the following points for your use.
1- This is an action that Israel has undertaken following months in which the terrorist organization Islamic Jihad has repeatedly fired unprovoked missiles at Israel.
2- The missiles that the terrorist organizations in the Gaza Strip fire are aimed only at the civilian population. In the past few days the terrorist organizations have fired over 100 missiles towards the southern population centres whilst parents were coming to pick up their children from school and kindergartens. Just imagine what would happen if a missile hit a school or kindergarten…
3- Israel had warned the terrorist organizations on numerous occasions and demanded that they stop firing missiles towards Israel. Despite these repeated warning, they continued to provoke and launch missiles and rockets.
4- For years the residents of the south of Israel have felt like hostages. Every few weeks the terrorists decide to fire rockets at civilian settlements. Thousands of families including small children flee to shelters.
5- Israel only targets terrorists: only those people who fire missiles towards Israel and only those who wage war against Israel and/or send other people to fire missiles and carry out acts of terrorism against Israel.
6- No other country in the world would put up with the firing missiles and rockets at population centres on its territory without responding.
7- Israel wants to live in peace and mutual respect with all its neighbors, including the Gaza Strip, but Hamas and the Islamic Jihad do not accept the existence of the State of Israel and call for its destruction together with Hezbollah and Iran.
8- Iran is the source and the head of the snake directing terrorism and arms to the terrorist organizations surrounding Israel.
9- Israel has nothing against the civilian population in the Gaza Strip and it does
everything in its power to avoid harming innocents and even brings thousands of workers from Gaza into its territory every day to work inside Israel. In addition Israel supplies Gaza with electricity and other civilian needs. This is at a time when the terrorists in Gaza are using the civilian population as human shields and even firing missiles towards Israel from population centres and, as we have seen many times, from schools and kindergartens.
10- There is no closure on Gaza and no blockade, Gaza has a border with the Egyptians and those who want to leave and come to Gaza, do so.
11- Instead of investing the hundreds of millions that Gaza receives as aid from many countries in the world, in education, the development of the city and infrastructure, the leaders of the Hamas terrorist organization that controls Gaza invest the money in the production of missiles and rockets, in the purchase of weapons and bombs and in the digging of offensive tunnels in order to harm the residents of Israel.
It’s a challenging time for Jewish communities in Europe. Anti-Semitism is on the rise as populism and the politics of the lowest common denominator are gaining traction. Our communities often need round the clock protection and our practices and customs such as keeping Kosher are under pressure from increasing political interference.
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