Coronavirus heavily impacts French Jewish community, ZAKA buries victims

March 27, 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 in the JPost

Additional Articles

Chief rabbi says Dutch Labour Party opposed an anti-Semitism definition to woo Muslims

AMSTERDAM (JTA) — Dutch Chief Rabbi Binyomin Jacobs said he was “shocked” that the Labour Party rejected a motion calling for the adoption of a definition of anti-Semitism, saying its vote aimed to curry favor with some Muslim voters.
On Tuesday, a majority of lawmakers in the lower house of the Dutch parliament, the  Tweede Kamer, passed a nonbinding motion calling on the government to adopt the definition of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance. But Labour, along with all the other left-wing parties, voted against it.
The definition has been adopted as official policy by the United Kingdom, Germany and five others in the European Union, as well as the EU as a whole.
Some pro-Palestinian activists have opposed the definition because it says that some forms of vitriol against Israel are anti-Semitic.
Jacobs, a member of the Rabbinical Center of Europe, rarely comments on political votes. He made an exception here.
The lawmakers who voted against the motion, he said, “did so out of political considerations.” Asked whether he meant that Labour opposed the motion to woo some Muslim voters, he said “Yes.”
Labour leader Lodewijk Asscher declined to say why his party voted against the motion, Ernst Lissauer, a prominent freelance journalist, wrote on Twitter.
‏Bram van Ojik of Green Left told Lissauer: “Anti-Semitism and criticism of Israel should be kept separate.”
On Wednesday, Jacobs and Rabbi Izak Vorst, the co-heads of Chabad’s team of emissaries to the Netherlands, attended an early Hanukkah candle-lighting ceremony at the Dutch parliament in The Hague. Khadija Arib, the chairwoman of the Tweede Kamer, also attended along with Ankie Broekers-Knol, chairwoman of the Eerste Kamer, or Senate.
Despite Labour’s vote, Jacobs said, “There is real determination in the Dutch political establishment to fight anti-Semitism, and the chairwomen’s remarks at the event reflected that.”
The article was published on JTA

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
 
Mr cohen from Schin op Geul
 
The world is turned upside down. The UK in isolation. My grandson, who lives in London but is studying at a Talmud College in Israel, will join us soon. He had flown from Israel to London for a week to attend his older brother’s wedding, but now cannot go back. And so he travelled to Calais last night via Dover, is now in Belgium and will come here immediately in the hope / expectation that he can still fly to Israel from the Netherlands.
 
Incidentally, he has been tested for corona and according to the test he is in possession of a very large number of antibodies and we do not have to worry about contamination, although we will of course observe the 1½ meters.
 
We have made it through Hanukkah quite well, but uncertainties are starting to gnaw more and more and so the limitations of human ability are becoming increasingly visible. But in the meantime, that ‘other’ older virus is also spreading: in the ND, the Nederlands Dagblad I am quoted:
Chief Rabbi Jacobs: ‘Prohibition of kosher slaughter has been a precursor to the persecution of the Jews throughout the centuries’. ‘Naturally we want to contribute to the welfare of animals,’ emphasizes Chief Rabbi Binyomin Jacobs. ‘Well-being is not only about slaughter, but also about everything before that: the stables, transport. The focus is now on one point: slaughter. I would like to sit with the PvdD, but then for the total well-being. ‘ Jacobs is moved by the ruling of the European Court. “If they’re really concerned about animal welfare, let them bring up animal cruelty and sadism in slaughterhouses and the large meat industry.”The Chief Rabbi sees the will to ban kosher slaughter as a sign of rising anti-Semitism. ‘The first ban that Hitler issued in the Netherlands was that of kosher slaughter. It is absolutely not the case that I accuse the people who are now advocating a ban with anti-Semitism. But the phenomenon has always been a precursor to the rising persecution of the Jews. That worries me very much. ‘ ‘Animal welfare is very high on the Jewish standard’, he continues. ‘Kosher slaughter is precisely about the welfare of the animals. And even if the animal is stunned, ie paralyzed, no one knows whether the animal suffers when it is cut into pieces. Science does not clarify this. ‘ Jacobs foresees major consequences if the Netherlands, like Flanders, imposes a ban on kosher slaughter without anesthesia. ‘Then we can’t eat meat anymore. Or we have to import it. It would be more consistent if the Party for the Animals advocated a general ban on meat. Then I would become a vegetarian. ‘ According to him, the consequences are even more far-reaching: ‘Orthodox Jewish people will leave the Netherlands. And Orthodox Jewish life is already so sparse. They are the core of the Jewish community. If it disappears, the periphery of the Jewish community will also disappear. ‘ The European Court of Justice partly relies on science for its judgment. However, according to Jacobs, this is not unambiguous. A ban on ritual slaughter is drastic for the Jewish community. “It’s an erosion of the faith community.”
 
And in the RD, the Reformatorisch Dagblad, Rabbi v.d. Camp words to that effect and elsewhere I also saw that Lowenstein expressed the same concern. It is nice that it is precisely through an attack on a religious aspect of Judaism that something very unique becomes visible, something to which I was drawn to the attention of, among other things, a non-Jewish employee at the EO. I was at the EO a few days ago to record a podcast for the Jewish Broadcasting Company. Afterwards you talk a little longer. If a member of one of the PKN municipalities no longer sees the faith, he deregisters and is therefore no longer Protestant. But the Jew always remains a Jew, he explained to me! I remember a certain Mr Cohen from Schin op Geul. He was an atheist, anti-Zionist, vehemently against Israeli politics and wanted nothing to do with Judaism. Of course, he did not want to speak to me, he explained to me in an impassioned speech of at least half an hour. But when some years later the local pastor asked him to give a lecture to his church about Israel’s special position in the Middle East and so he was actually asked to defend Israel’s politics and for the unassailable union between Jews and the holy Land, he called me and asked to help him prepare for his talk.
 
And we see the same thing now. Because also Jews who really do not attach any importance to kosher food and certainly not to kosher meat, for whom kosher slaughter has no value and who will not be harmed by any means if there is a ban on kosher slaughter, stand hand in hand with me in the fight against the ruling of the European Court. Why? Because they too feel that it is not primary here that this is not primarily about animal welfare, but about the survival of the Jewish Community in Europe. But does the unbelieving Jew (if any) then need the survival of religious Judaism? And then I just quote that non-Jewish employee of the EO: being a Jew goes deeper than just faith and is certainly not linked at all to membership of the Jewish community.
 
I think that Mr Cohen from Schin op Geul is an exemplary example of this.

 

Bill to ban circumcision introduced in Iceland’s parliament

Legislation claims the practice violates children’s human rights, places them at risk of infection and causes ‘severe pain’

Lawmakers from four political parties in Iceland introduced a bill in parliament that would ban the nonmedical circumcision of boys younger than 18 and impose imprisonment of up to six years on offenders.
Members of the ruling Left Green Movement, the Progressive Party, People’s Party and the Pirate Party submitted the bill to the Albingi on Tuesday, the RUV news site reported. Together, the parties account for 46 percent of the parliament’s 63 seats.
The measure cites the prohibition of female genital mutilation in 2005, arguing a similar prohibition is necessary for males. The report did not say when the bill would come to a vote.
Advocates of male circumcision, which many physicians believe reduces the risk of contracting sexually transmitted diseases and genital infections, have long objected to the comparison of the practice with female genital mutilation, a custom with no medical benefits that is universally viewed as detrimental to the ability to derive pleasure from intercourse.

The bill calls the circumcision of boys younger than 18 a violation of their human rights, according to the news site, and says it places them at an elevated risk of infection and causes “severe pain.”

Throughout Scandinavia, the nonmedical circumcision of boys under 18 is the subject of a debate on children’s rights and religious freedoms. The children’s ombudsmen of all Nordic countries — Finland, Iceland, Denmark, Sweden and Norway — released a joint declaration in 2013 proposing a ban, though none of these countries has enacted one.
In the debate, circumcision is under attack from right-wing politicians who view it as a foreign import whose proliferation is often associated mostly with Muslim immigration. And it is also opposed by left-wing liberals and atheists who denounce it as a primitive form of child abuse.
In 2012, a German court in Cologne ruled that ritual circumcision of minors amounted to a criminal act. The ruling was overturned but triggered temporary bans in Austria and Switzerland.
A similar debate is taking place across Western Europe about the ritual slaughter of animals, which is illegal in several European Union member states.
Iceland, which is not a member of that bloc, has a population of approximately 300,000, including several dozen Jews and a few hundred Muslims.
The article was published on The Times of Israel

Blessing for the Jewish New Year from Rabbi Menachem Margolin

Rosh Hashana marks the beginning of the year according to the Jewish calendar, We are now in the year 5778.

In Hebrew, Rosh HaShanah does not mean ‘the beginning of the year’ or ‘the new year’ but ‘the head of the year’. This means thatRosh Hashana should influence us for the entire year just as our head manages our body. 

Rosh Hashana is not being celebrated on the first day of the creation of the world according to the Bible, but rather on the sixth day of its creation. The reason for this is that on the sixth day of the creation of the world, Adam was created

In addition, we do not wish a happy new year or happy holiday but a ‘good year’ – that means that the entire year will be good. 

This is because Rosh Hashanah is the day that reminds us that as human beings, we all have a responsibility to make this world a good world. A world of moral values, kindness and charity. Not only on the day of Rosh Hashanah but throughout the entire year.

We live in a challenging times. The Bible teaches us that all challenges are given to us by God in order to strengthen us and reveal in us forces that are revealed only when a person is really capable of using them.

Just as hard work at a gym – those who go … it’s hard, but in the end it makes us stronger.

 The goal is to discover these forces and exploit them to make this world a good world.

Every year, when Rosh Hashanah comes – the birthday of the first person – each of us is obligated to make good decisions for the whole world.

On this Rosh Hashanah, we at eja started working on a large project that would bring people from all religions and backgrounds together and join forces to save lives in Europe. I call on each of you to take a few minutes and think how you can use your powers to make this world a world of  goodness and kindness.

Happy new year to everyone
 

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