Brussels mayor cleans memory stones with Antwerp survivor in the Holocaust Remembrance Day

May 2, 2022

The mayor of Brussels Philippe Close cleaned some pavement stones of the Belgian capital this Wednesday afternoon, April 27. They were not simple stones, though. They were “Stolpersteine”, known in English as stumbling stones: each engraved brass block is dedicated to the memory of a victim of the Nazi regime, usually placed in front of the victim’s former residence.

“These stones are very important for Brussels, because they are not only figures, they are names, they are families, children, men, women. They lived in this neighbourhood. And these pavements are very symbolic of the people who lived here,” said Close to Belga News Agency.

“We do it together with the European delegation of the Jewish community, but also throughout the territory of Brussels, with this symbolic act. It’s very important to show that in Brussels everybody has a place,” added the mayor.

In Brussels, the cleaning event was organized by the European Jewish Association (EJA) to commemorate the Holocaust Remembrance Day (Yom HaShoah) that this year started Wednesday evening April 27 through Thursday April 28.

“We have to remember all those who did not come back from Auschwitz. And one of the manners to do it is the Stolpersteine that we clean today,” explained Régine Suchowolski-Sluszny, Belgian Holocaust survivor from Antwerp.

“Because a lot of people do not have a place where they are buried, because they burnt,” added Régine with emotion. “It has to go on living on everybody’s soul that these people were murdered for nothing. Only because they had a Jewish mother,” she said to Belga News Agency.

Gratitude to Belgians

According to Regine, who presides the Jewish Organization in Flanders (FJO) in Antwerp, the Belgian people saved about 5000 Jewish children from the nazi regime. “50% of the Jewish people living in Belgium were saved. If you compare it to Holland, there was not even 20%. So the Belgian people did a very good job and we have to be grateful for that.”

In her speech at the opening event at the Jewish Museum of Belgium, she reminded the Belgian Christian couple that helped her family to scape the nazis, loved her and took care of her until she could reunite with her parents. She was only two years and a half then.

Régine defends that people should stand up against all forms of hate, intolerance and anti-Semitism. “People have to denounce it and not accept what is going on today,” she said to Belga News Agency.

“The world has to remember what happened. And we see today, sadly enough, that other people are suffering again; it’s not the same, because we can’t compare the Shoah to anything else, but too many people are suffering today and people are forgetting too quickly even what happened one hundred years ago,” Regine remarked.

Shining memory

In total, 90.000 stones can be found in Europe, from Spain to Finland. They were conceived by the German artist Gunter Demnig in 1993 and today the initiative follows up the international student-led “Make Their Memory Shine” movement, aiming to clean all Stolpersteine in a “pro-active manner”, mixing commemoration, volunteering and education.

The Chairman of the EJA rabbi Menachem Margolim, reminded that the nazis forced Jewish people to clean the streets.

“Today we clean the stones of the streets to make the memory of those Jewish people shine,” he said.

Additional Articles

EJP

En vacances en Croatie, des écoliers juifs français découvrent une croix gammée géante à l’extérieur de leur hôtel.

Le président de l’Association juive européenne, le rabbin Menachem Margolin, a déclaré : “Ce seront des vacances et une expérience inoubliables pour ces enfants, pour toutes les mauvaises raisons… un rappel que nous ne pouvons jamais devenir complaisants ou baisser notre garde quand il s’agit d’antisémitisme”.

Un groupe d’écoliers juifs français en vacances dans un hôtel de la ville de Trilj, près de Split, en Croatie, s’est réveillé lundi en découvrant une croix gammée géante barbouillée sur le trottoir en face de leur hôtel.

L’Association juive européenne (EJA), basée à Bruxelles, a été informée de cet acte clairement antisémite par son représentant en Croatie, Romano Bolkovic, qui a contacté les bureaux du Premier ministre, du Président et des ministres des Affaires étrangères et de l’Intérieur croates, et a informé l’ambassadeur d’Israël.

La police mène actuellement une enquête sur cet incident.

“C’est une honte absolue. Si je suis certain que les opinions de l’individu et du groupe responsables de la peinture d’une croix gammée géante ne sont pas représentatives de la grande majorité des Croates, l’acte et la nature de cette attaque – car c’est bien de cela qu’il s’agit – restent une profonde entaille pour les Juifs du monde entier”, a commenté le président de l’EJA, le rabbin Menachem Margolin.

“En tant qu’adultes, nous sommes tristement habitués à la haine, et pourtant nous continuons à faire tout ce que nous pouvons pour en protéger nos enfants. Qu’un groupe d’enfants juifs français en vacances en Croatie ait eu une introduction aussi vicieuse et visible à cette haine est tragique.”’

”Les vacances de ces enfants seront désormais inoubliables, pour toutes les mauvaises raisons”, a-t-il ajouté.

Le Rabbin Margolin a conclu, ”Bien que je sois confiant que la police fera toute la lumière sur cet incident, et bien que les mots forts de condamnation venant des plus hautes fonctions en Croatie soient un réconfort, nous avons encore beaucoup de travail à faire contre l’antisémitisme. Cette attaque nous rappelle que nous ne pouvons jamais nous permettre d’être complaisants et de baisser la garde”.

EJP

European Commission produces practical handbook on implementing the IHRA definition of antisemitism

The EJA thanks the European Commission for producing this practical handbook on implementing the IHRA definition of antisemitism. It will be a valuable tool for governments and organisations who are currently navigating the difficult political waters we find ourselves in, where intolerance and antisemitism are alarmingly on the rise.

Greetings for the Upcoming Rosh HaShanah by Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Belgium, H.E. Mr. Charles Michel

A delegation from the European Jewish Association met with newly appointed Prime Minister Dritan Abazović and Minister of Justice Marko Marko Kovač

Podgorica, Montenegro.

This morning (17 May), a delegation from the European Jewish Association met with newly appointed Prime Minister Dritan Abazović and Minister of Justice Marko Marko Kovač and representatives of the Prime Minister’s office including his Foreign Policy Adviser Mr Dorde Radulovic.

The EJA Delegation headed by Chairman Rabbi Menachem Margolin, was organised by Chief Rabbi of Montenegro Ari Edelkopf, and included Mrs Ellen Van Praag, Chair of IPOR, Netherlands, Riccardo Pacifici, Senior Board Member of the EJA respresenting the Jewish Community of Rome, and Alex Benjamin, Director of the EJA.

The delegation came to congratulate the Prime Minister on his new government, extend invitations to collaborate and co-operate, and to underline how important Montenegro is to Jewish people across Europe for its support and development of a growing Jewish Community. Montenegro, whilst small in size, is a David when it comes to creating a society where freedom of Religion is not only encouraged, but actively supported. For the EJA Montenegro represents an exemplar for other European countries to emulate and aspire to.

The delegation also witnessed the official handing over of government documents to Chief Rabbi Edelkopf from the Minister of Justice of Montenegro formally recognising the Jewish Community of Montenegro.

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