Des centaines de dirigeants visiteront l’ancien camp de concentration de Theresienstadt

i24
January 24, 2023
i24

“Ce qui s’est passé à Terezin est le meilleur exemple des conséquences que peuvent entraîner les fake news”

120 dirigeants, parlementaires et diplomates de toute l’Europe se sont réunis à Prague pour visiter l’ancien camp de concentration de Theresienstadt, où ils allumeront des bougies à la mémoire des 80 000 victimes juives, à l’occasion de la Journée internationale dédiée à la mémoire des victimes de la Shoah qui aura lieu vendredi.

L’Union des organisations juives d’Europe, qui organise l’événement, a lancé l’opération d’allumage des bougies pour la Journée internationale de la Shoah, qui sera distribuée à tous les parlements d’Europe.

Le président de l’Union des organisations juives d’Europe, le rabbin Menachem Margolin, a déclaré à l’ouverture de la conférence que ce qui s’est passé à Terezin est le meilleur exemple des conséquences que peuvent entraîner les fake news. Les nazis ont utilisé le camp comme une “vitrine” pour conjurer les critiques internationales sur les mauvais traitements qu’ils infligeaient aux Juifs dans les ghettos et ont présenté des gens apparemment heureux, y compris des enfants qui mangent à leur guise et mènent diverses activités culturelles – alors que la plupart d’entre eux étaient plus tard transféré dans les camps d’extermination.

“Terezin est un camp où les nazis ont tenté de montrer par la manipulation de films et de photographies un ‘ghetto modèle'”, a-t-il déclaré.  “Aujourd’hui, dans le contexte de l’épidémie de Covid-19, de la guerre en Ukraine et de la diffamation d’Israël, les antisémites utilisent exactement les mêmes méthodes. Le Juif est le bouc émissaire. La polarisation en politique contribue à répandre l’antisémitisme. La législation contre l’abattage rituel en Europe s’inscrit dans cette ambiance. De moins en moins de Juifs en Europe se permettent de montrer leur judéité sans crainte. Si les Juifs quittent l’Europe, ce sera un très mauvais signal de l’état du continent”, a-t-il expliqué.

Margolin a appelé à une coopération entre les parlements, les gouvernements européens et les communautés juives pour lutter contre l’antisémitisme.

46% des incidents antisémites en 2022 ont eu lieu en Europe et 39 % en Amérique du Nord. La propagande occupe 39% des actes antisémites, le vandalisme 28%, les violences physiques 14%, les violences verbales 11% et la délégitimation 7%, a indiqué le nouveau rapport de l’Organisation sioniste mondiale pour l’antisémitisme.

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Chief Rabbi Binyomin Jacobs spoke at a solemn and important event, marking the ascendancy of the late Cardinal and Archbishop of Utrecht Johannes de Jong

On 19th September in Utrecht, Chief Rabbi Binyomin Jacobs, Senior EJA Board Member and Chairman of the EJA Committee for combating antisemitism, spoke at a solemn and important event, marking the ascendancy of the late Cardinal and Archbishop of Utrecht Johannes de Jong as a Righteous amongst the Nations by Yad Vashem for resisting the Nazis and saving hundreds of Jewish families and children.

Present at the event were all Dutch Bishops, the Israeli Ambassador to the Kingdom of the Netherlands, two representatives of the King.

In his speech to those assembled, Chief Rabbi Jacobs recalled one particularly brave and visible moment of Cardinal de Jong’s resistance, linking it to a recent Torah Portion urging the Israelites, before entering the Land of Israel to “walk in his (G-d’s) ways”

In his powerful remarks Chief Rabbi Jacobs said:

“Last Shabbat we read in all synagogues in the world the Parshah כי תבוא in which we read, among other things, in chapter 28 sentence 9: והלכת בדרכיו -and you shall walk in His Ways.

The great philosopher, lawyer and physician Maimonides counts these words as one of the 613 do’s and don’ts known to Judaism and he explains that man should try as much as possible to resemble Gd. As the Midrash, the narrative literature, explains: “As the Lord is called gracious, so also shalt thou be merciful. As the Eternal is called merciful, so also shalt thou be merciful. And as the Eternal is called loving, so also shalt thou be loving.”

It is known that Maimonides never counts general commandments, such as “Thou shalt keep My commandments” or “Thou shalt sanctify thyself” in the number of the 613 commandments and prohibitions that the Torah prescribes. Only specific commandments count. And so the question arises, why is “and ye shall walk in His ways” an exception made here and an apparently general and overarching commission elevated to a specific individual commandment?

It is quite conceivable that a man lives exactly and meticulously as He, the Eternal, desires of him. He never commits a violation. And yet he does not, as it were, rise higher on the spiritual ladder. He remains on the spiritual plane where he stood. Teach us the Torah here: והלכת בדרכיו – there must be movement. How does a person get his spiritual level moving? By not merely fulfilling His commandments, but by being constantly aware that His ways must be walked. Every commandment has its specific assignment, its own way of carrying out, but growing, rising higher and higher, being in motion is an assignment in itself.

I can imagine that in the 1940s-1945s situation, many dutifully obeyed G-d’s laws, kept all commandments, and committed no transgression. But was there any movement? Were they willing to move the moment movement was required? “Thou shalt walk in His ways.” It is not enough to keep His commandments. His ways must be walked, there must be progress, spiritual ascent, movement.

During the horrible war period, according to the historian Prof. Presser, five percent of the Dutch were on the move, but it was a movement in the wrong direction because that five percent of our Dutch population was collaborating with the enemy, the Nazis. Ninety percent sat motionless and so let it happen. And only five percent moved in the right direction, walking in G-d’s Ways, at the risk of their own lives. The bishops, led by Archbishop de Jong, were part of that five percent, because on Sunday, August 3, 1941, it was pronounced from all the pulpits that membership of National Socialist umbrella organizations was not only prohibited, but would also entail exclusion from the sacraments.

The following happened prior to that Sunday:

In the night from Saturday to Sunday, August 3, 1940, the telephone rang in the Archbishop’s Palace. The Gestapo wanted to speak to the Archbishop immediately. Archbishop de Jong has Dr. Geerdinck announce that the men can come in half an hour. De Jong dresses in his official attire and the chandeliers are burning in the large room for guests.

When the bell rings at exactly four o’clock, Dr. Geerdinck opens, asks Himmler’s men to remove their coats and climbs the state staircase in front of them. Arriving at the door, he asks their names, knocks and leads the men inside. The Archbishop stands behind the table in his official garb and is silent. dr. Geerdinck announces: “Excellence. Obersturmführer Matzker and his adjutant”. De Jong bends down and remains silent. Geerdinck says: “setzen Sie sich”. Everyone sits down and everyone is silent.

Finally, the Obersturmführer takes out a narrow roll of paper and begins to read that the proclamation to ban membership of National Socialist umbrella organizations must not take place tomorrow morning. The Archbishop indicates that he has understood the message, whereupon his visitor says: “It is now four o’clock. All presbyteries can be reached by telephone. The proclamation in the church can be cancelled without difficulty.” The Archbishop mumbles that it is clear to him.

Then there is silence again, for a long time. Finally, Geerdinck says, “Gentlemen, have you fulfilled your assignment with this?”. They mumble yes, whereupon Geerdinck stands up and the visitors follow his example. A farewell is said, silently and without greeting.

The next Sunday morning, of course, the announcement went through everywhere. The words non possumus non loqui sound – “We cannot be silent”.

De Jong refused to simply continue to serve the Eternal as a faithful Catholic and to remain silent. He knew that especially as a church leader, movement, action was expected of him.

I regret that he could not be awarded the Yad Vashem award during his lifetime, but I am grateful that, thanks in part to the efforts of my good friend Dr. Hans Themans, we are finally gathered here today to show the world who and what de Jong used to be.

His Eminence Dr. Johannes Cardinal de Jong no longer needs the award, because he is rewarded daily for his willingness to risk his own life and to keep moving in the dark 1940s-45s, when 90% of our Dutch society motionless saw it and let it happen.

But this special meeting is of great importance to us, because alertness was, is and remains required. What happened then can happen again today and tomorrow. The war ended in our country on May 5, 1945, but anti-Semitism, today under the pseudonym anti-Zionism, has remained.”

Two youths attack Austrian Jewish teen wearing Star of David ring

The victim was treated in a local hospital for cuts and bruises to his face. Police are searching for the assailants.

Two teenagers attacked a 16-year-old Jewish boy in the Austrian city of Gratz before he was able to get away.
The victim was treated in a local hospital for cuts and bruises to his face. Police are searching for the assailants.
According to a report from the Gratz Jewish community, the victim was wearing a ring decorated with a Star of David when he was accosted March 4 on the street near a high school by the two teens, who demanded to know if he was Jewish. When he answered that he was, the boys told him to “piss off.” Then one of the boys slapped and punched him in the face while calling him a “shit Jew.”
In a statement Elie Rosen, head of the Jewish community in Gratz, said local schools need help in addressing antisemitism and should not only be teaching about the Holocaust but about the history of the Middle East conflict.
“The fact is, the word ‘Jew’ is used as an insult in schoolyards,” the statement read in part. “We have to help schools prepare to take on this problem.”
“Unfortunately, Gratz is not an exceptional case,” he added. “This incident is part of a development in Europe.”
Rosen accused society in general and the political leadership of failing to take such incidents seriously.
According to statistics on antisemitism in Europe compiled by the European Action and Protection League, antisemitic incidents in Austria more than doubled in 2018 to 547 from 255 in 2014. Data for several countries was presented at the European Jewish Association annual conference in Paris last month.
With more than 150 members, the Jewish community of Gratz is the second largest in Austria. According to the European Jewish Congress, about 15,000 Jews live in Austria today, most of them in Vienna.
The article was published in the JPost

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

9½ = 4

A few days ago, I received a phone call from Israel from M who claimed he was many years ago in school with one of my children. He was not the brightest of the class, but he always received high marks for Jewish subjects due to his diligence and good behavior. He called me to wish me many more years because of Sjawoe’ot and proudly informed me that he has recently obtained his education diploma and now supervises children with learning disabilities. I remember being shocked at the time that one of the mothers told me that M’s 9½ should actually have been a 4 and not comparable to her son’s 8.
There is no doubt that Torah study is of mayor importance. After all, we Jews are the People of the Book, of “learning”, daily and through the ages. And yet Judaism is not about the acquired knowledge. Judaism is not science, and “learning” is not studying. A high level of knowledge is not a proof of a high level of commitment.
When traveling on a train journey we know beforehand what station we want to step out.  And when we leave the train, it’s visible to everybody what the destination was.
That too is the way a good book works. In the title of the book, the beginning, in fact, the entire content is included.  And at the very end, in the last sentence or in the last word, the conclusion becomes clear and visible.
The Torah starts with the history of Creation. And our great explainer Rasjie asks an obvious question: Why does the Torah starts with the story of Creation? The Five Books of Moses are primarily intended for the Jewish People and we can only speak of the Jewish People after the Exodus from Egypt when the Torah was received on Mount Sinai. Wouldn’t it have made more sense if the Torah had started with this episode and not with the creation of the world?  And Rasjie answers his own question as follows: before we start studying the Torah, we must realize and accept that there is a Creator!
The last sentence of the whole Thora tells us how Moshe broke the stone Tablets of the Ten Commandments and G’d is grateful to him for that deed! Isn’t that strange! Is this the most suitable sentence to finish the Thora?  And what was the course of Moshe breaking the Tablets which were literally a gift from Heaven? When Moshe saw that the Jews, his people, had forgotten G’d and worshiped the Golden Calf, shouldn’t he better have put aside the Tablets, go to his people and addressed them admonishing and then took back the Tablets. Why smash them? And why was G’d so pleased with Moshe’s destructive act?
And again, the same answer as to the question about the story of Creation: if the Jews no longer wanted to follow Hashem our G’d Who brought them out of Egypt and instead focused on idolatry, the Torah became totally worthless and the Tablets had nothing left to offer.
The Torah is not a goal, but a means. The means to serve G’d and survive as a Jewish nation. And that’s why the Torah starts and ends with that thought.
If we are aware that the Torah is the means, then we can start “learning”. And it is not about the
9½ or the 4, not about a high or a low IQ. It is about commitment, real piety and sincerity. Torah is a means, and those who see Torah as the goal they better go to study something else.
Many good, prosperous and healthy years   
גוט יום טוב
Binyomin Jacobs, chief rabbi
Sjawoe’ot 5781

Mogherini in a letter to EJA Chairman: "I have a personal obligation to fight anti-Semitism"

European Union Foreign Minister, Federica Mogherini To the Chairman of the Union of Jewish Organizations in Europe (EJA), Rabbi Menachem Margolin:
“I have a personal obligation to fight anti-Semitism. We must fight every day against those who harm or show contempt for the memory of the Holocaust ”
In light of the growing controversy with the Polish government with regards to the Holocaust Bill, EU Foreign Minister Federica Mogherini wrote to Rabbi Menachem Margolin, chairman of the Union of Jewish Organizations in Europe (EJA), stating her personal commitment to target and combat anti-Semitism.
In a personal letter sent by Mogherini to Rabbi Margolin, she said: “The struggle against anti-Semitism is a personal goal for me. It is 70 Years sonce the Holocaust and manifestations of anti-Semitism and hate crimes are on the rise again in Europe. The European Union cannot exist without the memory of the Holocaust and certainly cannot exist without the Jews of the continent. ” “It is important that our children learn about the Holocaust in schools and visit the camps in order to understand the enormity of the atrocities and to ensure that they never return,” she said.
Rabbi Menachem Margolin, chairman of the Union of Jewish Organizations in Europe (EJA), expressed great appreciation for Mrs Mogherini’s continuing personal commitment to the struggle against anti-Semitism and to preserve Holocaust memory, but warned that “the struggle against anti-Semitism and the memory of the Holocaust cannot be detached from the current political climate in the continent . Only in recent weeks have we been witness not only to attempts to damage the memory of the Holocaust from the ruling party in Poland, but also to attempts to enact laws banning circumcision (Iceland) or imposing scandalous restrictions on kosher slaughter (Poland), severely harming freedom of religion and the very fabric of Jewish life throughout the continent – Principles that are the guiding principles of the European Union, but which the EU is still not doing enough to safeguard and to prevent such legislation. ”

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