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

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COVID Diary- Reflections from Our Advisory Board Member Rabbi Binyomin Jacobs

Every Day during the Corona crisis our Advisory Board Member Chief Rabbi Binyomin Jacobs (NL) writes a diary, on request of the Jewish Cultural Quarter in Amsterdam, which is published on the website of the NIW, the only Jewish Dutch Magazine. Rabbi Jacobs is the head of Inter Governmental Relationships at the Rabbinical Centre of Europe. We will be regularly publishing a selection of his informative, sometimes light hearted, but always wise pieces.

For our Dutch readers you can follow the diary every day at NIW home page: https://niw.nl
Column NIW 38 GB
Sara wants to tell her husband something positive and something negative. What do you want to hear first, she asks him? Start with the good news, her husband replied. Well, Sara enthuses, your Lexus'airbags worked very well. After two weeks holiday of writing my diary, I also have something positive and something negative to say. I'll start with the negative. I had to go to England for a few days. The reason why is irrelevant, but I want to share the corona bombardment surrounding this trip. The ferry ticket was easily booked, but then the test circus started. I checked online which test is required to cross the sea. €130 PCR. Afterwards, the test of €39 turned out to be sufficient. I had to be at the test site at 11:05 am, preferable not earlier. I was there at 11:04, but had to queue until 12:15! Two days later, after lengthy paper statements about testing, whereabouts and quarantine, I was in London. Four times a day I got a call from the local authority asking how I was feeling and where I was. They also send inspectors to check us at the door every other day. And then back home again. I expected the return journey to be easy as I am Dutch and fully vaccinated. Mais non! I was bombed by text, WhatsApp and email by the Ferry company. I had to have an urgent reason, which officially falls under the exceptions, to be allowed to return home. My full vaccination was not recognized as I am entering Holland from England and I had to have a negative PCR test less than 24 hours old. The latter was a difficult one, because my ferry left at 11 p.m. So, I could only go to a test location the next morning, on the day of departure, but I would receive the results after 24 hours, not earlier. I was quite upset about it. It seemed like mission impossible. After a few days in England and five tests with negative results, I was back in Holland. At the border I was kindly welcomed by our Royal Military Police. I just had to show my ID. No test results and not even my app showing that I'm vaccinated. That friendly "welcome back to the Netherlands and have a nice" made me forget all threatening emails, text messages and WhatsApp’s in no time and therefore my quarantine after returning passed without any emotional problems. Which shows the importance of a few kind and
friendly words!

EJA Statment on the Council Declaration on Anti-Semitism

EUROPEAN JEWISH CHIEF WARMLY WELCOMES COUNCIL DECLARATION ON ANTI-SEMITISM BUT SAYS TWO VITAL PIECES ARE MISSING
Brussels 6 December 2018. The Chairman of the European Jewish Association (EJA) today welcomed the Council of the European Union unanimous adoption of a declaration in the fight against anti-Semitism as a significant step forward, but said that the document misses two key points and arguably the two most important factors affecting anti-Semitism – ongoing efforts to curb Freedom of Religion and practice, and anti-Zionism as typified by the BDS movement.
Urging Europe’s leaders to sign up to the “Jewish red lines” ratified by the members of the European Jewish Association at their conference in Brussels in November, Rabbi Menachem Margolin, whose EJA represents thousands of Jews across Europe and is headquartered in the Belgian capital, said in a a statement:
“The EJA can only welcome the declaration and the commitment by the Council of the European Union to fighting anti-Semitism and better protect Jewish Communities and Institutions in Europe. I am particularly grateful to First Vice-President Timmermans, Commision Jourova, and Katharina Von Schnurbein, the EU’s special envoy on combatting anti-Semitism, for their on-going commitment to safeguarding European Jewry. This triumvirate is making a real difference and putting our concerns front and centre across the EU. The European Jewish Association and its many thousands of members and supporters is deeply appreciative of their efforts, and those of the council members who adopted this declaration unanimously.
“There are however, two vital and missing pieces in the declaration, and these two pieces form the root of much of the anti-Semitism felt by Jews in Europe: on-going efforts by some European countries to target Jewish freedom of religion and practice through legislation on circumcision and religious slaughter for instance, and Anti-Zionism typified by the BDS movement.
Taken together, and notably absent from the declaration, they represent  to European Jewry the touch-paper issues of anti-Semitism, attacks on Jews and their communities, and their way of life.
“Therefore, it is clear to me as Chairman of the European Jewish Association, that any declaration on tackling and fighting anti-Semitism that doesn’t include these two key factors is a declaration that can never be a complete declaration when it comes to tackling anti-Semitism properly and meaningfully.”

Jewish groups challenge European Court of Justice ruling on religious slaughter

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

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