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

December 22, 2020

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.

 

Additional Articles

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Abazović položio vijenac ispred Zida smrti u Aušvicu

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Ceremoniji u Aušvicu, prisustvali su i predsjednica Evropskog parlamenta Roberta Metsola, komesar Evropske unije za proširenje Oliver Varhelji i predsjednica Parlamenta, Češke Marketa Pekarova Adamova, navodi se u saopštenju Kabineta predsjednika Vlade.

Nakon polaganja vijenca i obilaska kampa Birkenau, prisutni su upalili svijeće u čast šest miliona Jevreja koji su poginuli u Holokaustu.

“Abazović je prvi premijer Crne Gore koji je zvanično posjetio Aušvic”, zaključuje se u saopštenju.

 

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Taking Action Following the Murder of Yeshiva Student, Dvir Sorek (ת.נ.צ.ב.ה)

A day after Dvir funeral EJA chairman, Rabbi Margolin had sent letters to High Representative Mogherini, H.E. Mr. David Maria Sassoli MEP, H.E. Mr. Donald Franciszek Tusk and Mr. David James McAllister MEP, urging them to condemn the glorification of violence and radicalisation by the Palestinian Authority, and make clear that incitement will not be tolerated by the EU, in order to ensure that the murderer of the 19-year-old Dvir Sorek does not receive such payments/stipends.

 

Mega Purim Project

Like every year, right before Purim, the EJA together with Bassad and RCE launched the Mega purim Project.  We have organized and delivered hundreds of Mishlochei Manot to be given in Jewish communities across Europe during the upcoming Purim.
May it be a joyful and peaceful Purim to all.

 

EJA Press release on European Court of Justice ruling on Kosher slaughter

EUROPEAN JEWISH ASSOCIATION LAMENTS EUROPEAN COURT OF JUSTICE RULING ON KOSHER SLAUGHTER IN BELGIUM “WHAT A TERRIBLE MESSAGE TO SEND TO EUROPEAN JEWRY – YOU AND YOUR PRACTICE ARE NOT WELCOME HERE” SAYS ITS CHIEF.
“Bogus animal welfare claims are being used to penalise a practice that puts care and respect for animals at its very core”,
“This ruling gives the green light for other countries to follow suit, and if they do, there will be no Kosher meat available in Europe”, says Rabbi Menachem Margolin, Chairman of the European Jewish Association.
(Brussels 17 December 2020) The European court of Justice today delivered a potentially devastating ruling on an issue that has plagued European Jewry for years, the right to slaughter animals in the Kosher tradition, a millennia old practice that puts animal welfare and minimizing animal suffering at its very core.
Rabbi Menachem Margolin, Chairman of the EJA today said his organisaton will explore every avenue and recourse available to protect the rights of Jews everywhere in Europe,
“This is a sad day for European Jewry. For decades now, as animal rights have come into vogue, Kosher slaughter has come under relentless attack, and subject to repeated attempts to ban it. The entire basis of the attacks are built on the entirely bogus premise that Kosher slaughter is more cruel than regular slaughtering, despite there being not a shred of evidence backing this up, and worse completely ignoring the fact that Kosher slaughter puts the welfare of the animal and minimising its suffering as of paramount importance. This is not a glib staement, but a commandment that all Jews must adhere to.
“What today’s ruling does is put animal welfare above the fundamental right of Freedom of Religion. Simply put, Beast takes preference over man.
Potentially devasting too, it gives other European countries like Belgium – who similarly regard this fundamental Charter freedom as ‘negotiable – the green light to follow suit. If every european country does it means only one thing: there will be no Kosher meat available in Europe anymore.
“What a terrible message to send to European Jewry, that you and your practices are not welcome here. This is a basic denial of our rights as European citizens. We cannot let it stand and will pursue every recourse and avenue to ensure that it doesnt.”
The European Court of Justice has ruled on a Belgian case, involving Flanders and Wallonia laws, that require pre-stunning of animals before slaughter. In short, the Court says that individual Member State moves to ban kosher slaughter by making stunning a pre-requisite, do not in themselves violate the Freedom of Religion rights contained within the EU charter of Fundamental Rights.
The ruling runs contrary to an opinion given in early September 2020 by the European Court Advocate General who suggested the oppositea.

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