Coronavirus heavily impacts French Jewish community, ZAKA buries victims

May 11, 2020

Rabbi Menachem Mendel Peretz, head of ZAKA France, alerted the Jewish community, saying that “we are counting bodies, and you are still debating the quarantine measures.”

As of Wednesday night, France reported that 11,539 people were hospitalized after testing positive for coronavirus and 1,331 people  died from the virus, including some Jewish people.On social media, including many Facebook groups, a list of French Jews infected with the coronavirus was published and is being updated almost daily, people urging the community to pray and read tehillim for them.

In a recent statement, ZAKA claimed that many victims from the coronavirus in France are Jewish and that the organization’s volunteers are burring Jewish victims every day. Rabbi Menachem Mendel Peretz, head of ZAKA France, alerted the Jewish community, saying that “we are counting bodies, and you are still debating the quarantine measures.”

“We are in difficult times, we have a very hard job as we take care every day of the Jews who died as a result of the virus,” he added. “It is very difficult to describe the situation with what we face here every day.”
Rabbi Peretz said that important Rabbis from the community are among the victims.”Last Saturday, Rabbi Touboul, head of the Beit Hanna and Chaya Mushka schools in Paris, some of the largest Chabad schools for girls in Europe, died suddenly,” he said.
“We worked to fulfill Rabbi Touboul’s will to be buried in Israel. We were able to reach an agreement with the Israeli Ministry of Health, we received very strict instructions on how to treat the deceased according to Jewish law and the Health Ministry guidelines in order to bury him in Israel.”

Rabbi Touboul was buried on Tuesday at the Mount of Olives Cemetery in Jerusalem.
ZAKA’s French head also added that tonight, a French aircraft will land at Ben Gurion Airport, carrying three coffins with the bodies of Jews who died in France from the coronavirus to be buried in Israel.
Among them will be Rabbi Hamou, a major rabbi and community leader of the Mekor Chaim community in Paris, who fought for his life for about a week in the hospital.
In the statement ZAKA begs the Jewish community in France, in Israel, and around the world, to stay home.
“Please, for your own benefit and for your families, apply the Ministry of Health guidelines to stay home, to stay alive,”  ZAKA said.
Actualité Juive, a major Jewish newspaper in France, asked in a recent report if the Jewish community is over-represented among those infected with the coronavirus in the country.
“There was, without any doubt, a certain skepticism in the community,” recognized the Chief Rabbi of France Haïm Korsia. “At first, people may have thought that the risk could not exist in their immediate family,” he added.
But today, the Jewish community has realized the emergency of the situation and the importance of staying at home, according to Actualité Juive.

The article was published on the JPost

Additional Articles

EJA Open Letter Calling on Polish Government to Scrap Kosher Ban Plans

EJA INITIATED OPEN LETTER FROM DOZENS OF PARLIAMENTARIANS ACROSS EUROPE AND JEWISH LEADERS CALLING ON POLISH GOVERNMENT TO SCRAP KOSHER MEAT BAN PLANS
Dozens of parliamentarians from across Europe and Israel, including Senators, MPs, MKs, MEPs and the UK House of Lords, and Jewish community leaders from all over Europe have joined forces in a letter calling on the Polish Government to scrap part of an animal welfare Bill to be voted on in the Polish Senate on Tuesday 13 October.
The Bill, if passed as currently written, would see a ban on the export of Kosher meat from Poland, a move that would severely impact Jewish communities across the continent who, either by size or limited resources, rely heavily on Poland as a supplier of kosher meat.
The Bill – to the clear concern of the many parliamentarians and Jewish leader signatories – also sets a dangerous precedent: it puts, animal welfare rights clearly ahead of the fundamental European right of freedom of religion.
The signatories also raised the fact that there is no conclusive scientific evidence to support claims that kosher slaughter is any more cruel than the majority of slaughter taking place day-in, day out in Europe.
In their letter to the Polish President H.E. Mr. Andrzej Sebastian Duda , H.E. Madam Elżbieta Barbara Witek, Marshal of the Sejm of the Republic of Poland and H.E. Mr. Tomasz Paweł Grodzki, Marshal of the Senate of the Republic of Poland, the signatories wrote:
“By prohibiting an export of products that represents a central tenet of Jewish faith and practice for many, you are sending a strong message that laws that effectively hinder Jewish life in Europe are acceptable.
“it is for these reasons – and on behalf of the many thousands of Jews that we as Community Leaders and Parliamentarians represent – that we urge the Polish government, its Parliament and its Senators to stop this aspect of the Bill.”
Our Chairman, Rabbi Menachem Margolin speaking ahead of the vote said,
“What appears to be a national polish political issue is nothing of the sort. The ramifications of this Bill are potentially devastating and profound to Jews eveywhere in Europe, and also to the many who value the liberty to practice freedom of religion.
“The Bill, if passed, will be seen as a declaration that it is open season to anyone who objects to aspects of Jewish law, faith and practice. It must be stopped.
“We are extremely humbled and touched that so many dsitinguished politicians, from the French Senate to the Greek Parliament and everwyhere in between, and so many Jewish community leaders agree and are backing the call for this aspect of the law to be scrapped.”
You can find a copy of the open letters and view its updated list of signatories below

Israel #YouAreNotAlone

Please share far and wide. And take a minute yourselves to write a message.
#YouAreNotAlone – Supportive messages for Israelis under fire.
“You are not alone” is a European Jewish Association initiative that encourages the public across Europe to write short messages of support to families in Israel suffering under hundreds of indiscriminate rocket attacks on towns and villages. Families who feel isolated and unsupported as the world looks on passively.
By writing a short personal message you can show you care. That you stand with them, that “you are not alone”.
Each and every message sent through the portal on our dedicated webpage will be translated into Hebrew, then delivered and shared to the areas most under fire, offering comfort and support to those taking shelter with their families.
It only takes a minute to show you care. And it’s a minute that means so much.
www.ejassociation.eu/you-are-not-alone/

Austrian Initiative Promoting Holocaust Education in Awake of WWII Victory Anniversary

EJA had received the following letter from the Federal Chancellery of Austria:

Dear Sir/Madame,

I hope this message finds you well. 

The 8th of May 1945 marked the end of the Second World War in Europe and the end of the Nazi reign of terror in Austria. While looking back at the darkest chapter in Austria‘s history, the 8th of May also represents a day of liberation and joy.

Chancellor Sebastian Kurz and Vice Chancellor Heinz-Christian Strache spoke at today’s commemorative event, emphasizing that remembrance must be followed by concrete action. Austria has a special responsibility in the fight against antisemitism and in safeguarding Jewish life in Europe, Israel and in the rest of the world. The first ever agreement of the EU countries to decisively fight antisemitism which Austria managed to reach during its Presidency, was an important step into the right direction.

“My generation is probably the last one that is able to speak to holocaust survivors. In this context, I fully support the proposal to give all secondary students in Austria the possibility to visit the Mauthausen memorial at least once in their lifetime,” so the Chancellor.

Vice-Chancellor Heinz-Christian Strache also underlined Austria’s commitment to remembrance on such a significant day: “The Shoah was the most horrible and vicious manifestation of the Nazi terror regime. I bow my head to all those who became victims to this gruesome and cruel time in our history.”

Austria has been cooperating actively with the memorial Yad Vashem over the past decades. Since the year 2000, around 800 Austrian teachers participated in seminars/courses at the memorial to improve the curricula of Austrianstudents, and last year, as Austrian Federal Government, we contributed 1 Million Euros to the construction of the Shoah Heritage Campus. 

To further strengthen this relationship, today Chancellor Sebastian Kurz has signed on behalf of the Austrian Federal Government an archival agreement with Yad Vashem. The agreement will give historians from Austria and Israel the opportunity to access their respective archives and conduct their research. We are firmly committed to make sure that no individual story will ever be forgotten.

Feel free to come back to me at any time in case of further inquiries or comments.

Kind Regards,
Peter Launsky-Tieffenthal

Federal Chancellery of the Republic of Austria

Spokesperson of the Federal Government

Ambassador

Peter Launsky-Tieffenthal

EJA Chairman, Rabbi Menachem Margolin had reply to the letter:
c and vc at

Despite the situation, delegation of ministers and parliamentarians from across Europe commemorate the Babyn Yar massacre in Kiev

The two-day visit of the delegation was organized by the European Jewish Association (EJA) in partnership with the Babyn Yar Holocaust Memorial Center and the Federation of Jewish Communities of Ukraine ahead of International Holocaust Remembrance Daywrites Yossi Lempkowicz.
“We appreciate very much that you choose to come to Ukraine despite the current situation,” said Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Olha Stefanishyna as she addressed a delegation of 100 senior ministers, members of parliament, diplomats and Jewish leaders from across Europe who visited Kiev to commemorate Babyn Yar, the most infamous sites of the Holocaust and to pledge to promote education of the Holocaust in schools and to fight antisemitism.
The two-day visit of the delegation was organized by the European Jewish Association (EJA) in partnership with the Babyn Yar Holocaust Memorial Center and the Federation of Jewish Communities of Ukraine ahead of International Holocaust Remembrance Day. The initiative aims to keep antisemitism as a priority political and educational issue and ensure that the Babyn Yar tragedy is never forgotten.
Also known as the “Holocaust by bullets”, Babyn Yar saw around 34,000 Jews murdered and buried in a mass grave by the Nazis and their collaborators in two days in September 1941, and is never forgotten.
Day one saw a symposium to discuss the challenge of combating on-going antisemitism across the continent and the creation of parliamentary working groups to tackle the issue on all its forms.
Among the speakers who addressed the symposium on Monday was the Ukraine Parliament President Ruslan Stefanchuk (pictured, below), who stressed that Ukraine is the fourth country when it comes to the number of Righteous Among the Nations, those who helped Jews during WWII.

“Fighting antisemitism is an endless task which cannot be summed up to polite speeches in one day in the yearly calendar,” declared Rabbi Menachem Margolin, Chairman of the European Jewish Association, during a memorial ceremony at the site of Babyn Yar.

The Ukranian parliament recently adopted al law  to fight and prevent antisemitism in the country and to commemorate the Holocaust. “Memory is the only way to fight antisemitism,” he said. “The atrocities all happened because people kept silent because fear, indifference and egoism. The study of the Holocaust is of special importance for the Ukrainians,” he added.
”Fighting antisemitism is an endless task which cannot be summed up to polite speeches in one day in the yearly calendar,’’ declared Rabbi Menachem Margolin, chairman of the European Jewish Association.
“Significant educational work in all formal and informal educational frameworks and in civil society are needed  and they all need to be backed by concrete laws and not by mere recommendations,” he said.
Michael Sidko, last survivor of the Babi Yar massacare, who lives in Israel, shared his story with the conference attendees. He was six years old when the atrocity occurred. His mother, younger sister Clara and baby brother were shot dead by the Nazis in cold blood. He and his brother managed to escape thanks to one of the Ukrainian guards who let some children escape to the forests. Sidko asked members of parliament to return to their countries and work to teach the younger generation the story of the Holocaust and its lessons and to educate them to strive for peace and brotherhood among all peoples.
Michael Sidko, last survivor of the Babi Yar massacare
Rabbi Meir Stambler, Chairman of the Federation of Jewish Communities of Ukraine, noted that Jewish communities in the country are being renewed with the full support of the authorities. “There is a lot of dualities in relation to the nation’s heroes who were also antisemitic and we warn about that but understand that this is a nation being rebuilt after 70 years of communism. As someone who walks the streets of Kiev with all the hallmarks of a religious Jew, I must note that in Kiev I feel much safer as a Jew than Paris, Brussels. London or any other European capital,” he said,
The delegation of personalities participated in a memorial ceremony at the site of the Babyn Yar massacre where a memorial museum is being built.
https://www.eureporter.co/world/israel/holocaust/2022/01/28/despite-the-situation-delegation-of-ministers-and-parliamentarians-from-across-europe-commemorate-in-kiev-the-babyn-yar-massacre/

Additional Communities
United Kingdom
Ukraine
Turkey
Schweiz
Switzerland
Spain
Slovakia
Serbia
Russia
Romania
Portugal
When you click on "Donate" you will be redirected to a secure donation page