City Council of Siena, Italy is taking a stand against antisemitism

March 24, 2021

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.

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EJA Yom-Haatzmaut-Zoom with Israeli Government Minister TZACHI HANEGBI

It was our pleasure today to host a special Yom-Haatzmaut-Zoom conference with Israeli Government Minister TZACHI HANEGBI. Jewish community leaders from all across Europe took part, shared their thoughts and raised some questions to the minister on the issue of Israel and it’s relations to the diaspora Jews.
we would like to thank:

Alex Luzon, B’nei B’rith Rome

Andrew Hilkowitz, Child Survivors Association, Germany

Barbara Pontecorvo, Osservatorio Solomon, Antidescrimination legal network (Italy’s Lawfare) 

Betty Luzon, Israel Embassy Rome – permanent Civil employee

Daniele Toscano, publicist and journalist, Rome

David Seldner, a leader of Karlsruhe, Germany community

Diana Sandler, head of Barnim, Germany Community

Elio Adler, Werteinitiative eV (Values Initiative Association) leading advocate in Germany fighting for a Jewish future

Irina Katz, head of Freiburg, Germany community 

Johanna Arbit Perugia, executive of Karen Hayesod (worldwide) and its former head

Jonathan Marcus, Limmud Germany, Jewish learning festival

Lala Süskind, former Head Berlin community 

Lea Floh, Head Mönchengladbach community 

Maya Zehden, German-Israel Association executive

Nathan Gelbert, former head Germany Karen Hayesod 

Riccardo Pacifici, former head Rome community 

Sacha Stawski, Pro Israel activist, Israel Congress founder, Honestly Concerned media monitoring

Sigmount Königsberg (might join late) Berlin Jewish community Antisemitism Commissioner

Simone Santoro, head Italian union of jewish students and young professionals

Volker Beck, former MP in Bundestag, leading pro Israel voice of Green Party

Walker Megnaghi, former head Milan Italy community 

Vittorio Mosseri, head of Livorno Jewish Community 

Fernando Rosentberg, chair J community of Barcelona

Esther Bendahan of the J community of Madrid
Hanna Luden of CIDI in The Netherlands
Michel Gurfinkiel of center for European judaism (CEJ)
Andy Ergas, member of the Board of the Jewish community of Madrid
Charlotte Knobloch, President Jewish Community Munich Central Council of Jews member
Former head of Central Council
Richard Volkmann, Speaker Munich Jewish community
Sylvie Bensaid of the French Jewish weekly magazine Tribune Juive
Alexander Driessen – SWU Netherlands
Elad Zigler – Director SWU Netherlands
Aye Kari – Netherlands
Giulia Ora – Italy
Dr. Jacek Nowak
Andy Ergas from Madrid
David Hatchwell,
Régine Suchowolski – Sluszny, President of FJO
Tomas Stern, head of Bratislava Jewish Community
Ruth Dureghello, President, Jewish Community of Rome

If you missed our conference you can watch it at the following link:

a note about our next zoom conference will be published on our Facebook page

Ways to help the Jews of Ukraine

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.

Passing Away of Our Dear Board Member- Dr. Emil Avramov Kalo

It is with deep sadness that we learned of the passing of EJA Board Member Dr. Emil Avramov Kalo. A larger than life character, well know and respected in his native Bulgaria and a fierce and proud advocate for his country and for European Jewry as a whole. He was always there for us with valuable and wise counsel. We extend our condolences to his family at this difficult time.
ת.נ.צ.ב.ה

Protesters mass in France, Israel, UK to demand justice for Sarah Halimi

In France, some 25,000 demonstrate against court decision that Jewish woman’s killer was too stoned to be held criminally responsible
Protesters gathered in Paris, Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, and London on Sunday to demonstrate against the ruling of France’s highest court that the killer of a Jewish woman in the French capital was not criminally responsible because he had smoked marijuana before the crime.
Sarah Halimi, a 65-year-old Orthodox Jewish woman, was pushed out of the window of her Paris flat to her death in 2017 by neighbor Kobili Traore, who shouted “Allahu Akbar” (“God is great” in Arabic).
But in a decision earlier this month, the Court of Cassation’s Supreme Court of Appeals upheld rulings by lower tribunals that Traore cannot stand trial because he was too high on marijuana to be criminally responsible for his actions.
Some 25,000 protesters, many of them Jewish, gathered in Paris to demand justice for Halimi.
Under the banner of “Justice for Sarah Halimi,” the rally at Trocadero Square overlooking the Eiffel Tower reflected the widespread indignation of many French Jews at the April 14 ruling by their country’s highest court.
It was held under tight security arrangements in a cordoned-off enclosure where the Jewish umbrella group CRIF played a video on a giant screen in which French Chief Rabbi Haim Korsia demanded another “trial of facts,” even if it ends without sentencing of Traore.
The rally Sunday was the first time in decades that a large number of French Jews gathered to protest against organs or actions of the French state.
“The clamor has risen and hope has returned. That hope is all of you here,” Halimi’s brother William Attal told a crowd of several thousand at the Trocadero esplanade in Paris.
The MP who leads Macron’s Republic on the Move party, Christophe Castaner, addressed the protest, which was also attended by opposition leaders and by several well-known actors.
Jacques Essebag, a French-Jewish comedian who is known by the stage name Arthur, in a video message said he has “decided to start using drugs because in France you can do whatever you want, even kill your neighbor if you don’t like her, if you use drugs.” He then added: “What has become of this country?”
Former French first lady Carla Bruni, wife of Nicolas Sarkozy, also appeared at the Paris rally, as did Mayor Anne Hidalgo, who said the city would soon name a street in Halimi’s memory.
“It will also be a way of doing her justice,” Hidalgo said.
However, the video message from Hidalgo, a Socialist politician, provoked whistles and booing from many protesters at the event, which did not feature live speeches due to COVID-19 measures.
Organized by the CRIF umbrella of French Jewish communities, the rally was called “to show our astonishment at a decision that conforms to the law, but not to justice,” CRIF said.
The event featured many French and Israeli flags, and those of the far-right Jewish Defense League.
More than 20,000 people demonstrated in Paris, and up to 2,000 took part in a march in the Mediterranean city of Marseille, police said, while around 600 gathered outside a synagogue in the eastern city of Strasbourg.
Three protests were also held in Israel, all taking place at 3 p.m. in order to coincide with the demonstration by the Jewish community in Paris. The main demonstration was in front of the French Embassy on Herbert Samuel Street in Tel Aviv.
The Jewish community in the United Kingdom also demonstrated in front of the French Embassy in London on Sunday at 1 p.m., in solidarity with the community in France. Attendance was limited because of COVID-19 restrictions.
In addition to the rally in Paris, protest rallies were planned to take place on Sunday in Marseille, Strasbourg and Lyon. Abroad, rallies were scheduled to be held in Washington, DC, Los Angeles and Miami in the United States as well as in Rome, Italy.
Some Jewish organizations have used harsh language about the case, including the conservative Europe-Israel group, which called it “the new Dreyfus Trial.” It’s a reference to the anti-Semitic treason charges leveled at a French-Jewish soldier in 1894, and which many to this day believe showed that French society and European societies, in general, were too anti-Semitic to allow Jews to truly integrate.
Israel blasted the decision of the French court last week.
“Sarah Halimi was murdered for clearly anti-Semitic motivations, for the sole reason that she was a Jew,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Lior Hayat told The Times of Israel. “This was a despicable murder that harmed not only the victim herself and her family, but also the entire Jewish community’s sense of security.”
“The way to confront anti-Semitism is through education, zero tolerance, and heavy punishment,” Hayat continued. “This is not the message that the court’s ruling conveys.”
Sarah Halimi was beaten before she was thrown off her Paris apartment building’s roof in April 2017. (Courtesy of the Halimi family)
Critics of the ruling cited apparent composure by Traore, an immigrant from Mali who was 27 when he killed Halimi, a physician in her 60s. Traore, whom a lower court said targeted Halimi because she was Jewish, called her a demon as he pummeled her in her third-story apartment, which he entered by force.
He then threw her out the window and shouted: “A lady fell down from the window!” to cover up his actions, witnesses said. He left the scene, allegedly to escape it, and was arrested on a nearby street.
Others argue that even if Traore was psychotic, he was criminally liable when he took the drugs that made him psychotic and should therefore stand trial. He has no documented history of psychiatric problems.
French President Emmanuel Macron has said he would advance legislation to prevent criminals from avoiding trial by using an insanity defense for actions committed under the influence of drugs.
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