EJA calls on Split mayor to condemn antisemitism and adopt IHRA definition

June 15, 2021

In an open letter to the media in Croatia, the EJA called on the newly elected leaders of the city of Split - Mayor Ivica Puljko and his deputy Bojan Ivosevic – both of whom recently used anti-semitic references during their election campaign, to adopt the IHRA definition of antisemitism in order to draw a line under the incident.
Our Chairman Rabbi Margolin wrote "At a time of growing anti-Semitism in Europe, it is concerning that in the second largest city of an EU member state two people who made anti-Semitic outbursts or pro-Nazi excesses are elected to two leading positions," the letter said.
"We welcome the courageous and quick condemnation of such behavior sent by the Prime Minister of the Republic of Croatia Andrej Plenković, as well as the condemnation of Deputy Prime Minister Davor Božinović both (Puljko and Ivošević) on election night…in many cases, such behavior would result in the immediate withdrawal of that person from public life… the European Jewish Association believes that the adoption of the IHRA definition of anti- Semitism in Split would be appropriate to draw a line under this incident."

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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
Diary 7 Feb. 2021
“The attention for Israel is increasing in many Dutch Churches. Yet it can do a bit more. The Hersteld Reformed Church (HHK) has now once again put its vision on paper. The Church is called to expose anti-Semitism as hatred against the G-d of Israel, ”I read in the Reformed Daily.
At the end of the article, different Christian denominations reported their attitude towards Jews. What interested me, of course, was their attitude towards converting Jews and their views on replacement theology.
Just a brief explanation for my Jewish and less Christian-savvy Gentile diary readers:
Replacement theology proclaims that wherever in the Tanakh the Jewish people are mentioned, they should be replaced by "Christians."
This theology has been the source of a great deal of anti-Semitism and persecution of Jews over the centuries. To briefly summarize an interesting article: the various denominations have different opinions about how to look at Jews and how they should or should not be converted. And that urge or desire to convert made me think on Sunday (the Christian day of rest!).
It is a fact that the urge to convert has led to millions of victims over the centuries. That replacement theology is therefore experienced as an extremely reprehensible act to me.
But how do I view a Christian who wants to convert me? Can I accept that? Obviously I will not be converted and will actively fight attempts to convert, but… Do I think the other should have the desire to convert me?
We Jews have it easy because we believe that Jews should serve the Eternal in a Jewish way, but Gentiles don't.
The so-called Seven Noahide Laws apply to them. If the non-Jew lives according to these laws, but still a whole package, then that is fine. Then, I asked myself, will I try to convince secular Gentiles to abide by these laws? And shall I point so-called Messiah professing Jews to their error? And my answer is a clear "yes".
But, I then asked myself, then I also do a mission! Look at Hanukkah when we publicly light the Menorah? That is not just any fun party. It has a clear message: bringing light to spiritual darkness! And why am I nagging when Christians want to convert us?
It was an interesting and fierce discussion with myself, but in the end I think I was right. I believe, I am even convinced, that every believing Christian would like to see me transition to Christianity.
I will never do that because 1: I will have lost my job as Chief Rabbi and 2: As a Jew I am rock solid in my faith and (unfortunately for the missionary) I will really not be able to get rid of it. But: how do I view that missionary, the urge to convert or, even if no conversion attempt is made, the phenomenon that, although I must now be left alone, there is the firm conviction that I will eventually see the "light"?
I came to the conclusion that I have no problem with this. Every person is allowed to think and believe as he likes. Every person may think of me that his way of life is the right one and the other is wrong. But the moment his faith gives or calls to kill the dissenters, to bribe them with money or to blackmail them spiritually, then it becomes unacceptable to me.
Incidentally, the conversion was completely snowed in by the media report that two drugs have been discovered in Israel that appear to cure corona patients. So, no vaccines, but medicines. The FD speaks of a “game changer”. I sincerely hope that it will become apparent very soon that it does indeed work and will thus create a gigantic global breakthrough. It is also great that Israel will provide that breakthrough. Makes me feel great and proud. But of course, it will also be a wonderful opportunity to confirm the conspiracy theories. Jews are guilty of corona and see the evidence: they are now going to make money on the drug again. Will the International Court of Justice in The Hague also interfere with this and will our pharmacies be raided immediately that do not mention “made in Israel” in their package insert? Because there will probably be a complaint or a UN resolution because perhaps one of the doctors who made the discovery is living in the "occupied territories".
And if not, probably one of the patients who has been cured with one of these drugs. Or am I thinking too negative? Because also mobile phones, computers and many other medicines of global value and "made in Israel" have never been boycotted.
 

#LightingEurope Fourth and Fifth Day of Chanukah13-12-2020

As a part of our #LightingEurope canpaign we are happy and honored to have EMIH Unified Hungarian Jewish Congregation Executive Rabbi Slomó Köves for the fourth candle and Dr Leah Floh, Chairperson of the Mönchengladbach Jewish Community for the Fifth candle with some special words for Chanikah
You can read the translation of Dr Floh here:
My dear Jewish friends in the entire world but especially in Israel!
Dear friends and supporters!
The Jewish Community of Möchengladbach [Northrhein-Westphalia, Germany] and all Jews from throughout Germany want to wish all of you a Happy Chanukah – a festival of lights, of love, of hope and of solidarity.
Please stay healthy or return quickly to good health. Remain optimistic and always remember to support each other.
Dear Shoah survivors, dear Child Survivors: you have great capacity for resilience and with it you could infect others with your positive outlook on life.
I’m convinced that we will be able to celebrate together next year.
Am Israel Chai עם ישראל חי [the people of Israel live!], l'shana haba'ah b'Yerushalayim לשנה הבאה בירושלים‎ [next year in Jerusalem!].
Chag Chanukah Sameach חג חנוכה שמח [Happy Chanukah Holiday!]
Amen!

Ways to help the Jews of Ukraine

In response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Jewish organizations are directing aid for tens of thousands of Jews living in the embattled country, assisting refugees who are fleeing the fighting and helping area Jews who have been trying or are hoping to immigrate to Israel.

Below is a partial list of organizations that have ramped up ongoing efforts in the region or opened emergency mailboxes since the start of the war.

• The Jewish Federations of North America has an emergency mailbox for helping people immigrate to Israel, securing the local Ukrainian community and its institutions and maintaining critical welfare services, among other needs.

• The American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee has a longstanding presence in the country, assisting impoverished seniors and supporting a network of Jewish community centers and social service agencies.

• The American Jewish Committee’s emergency #StandWithUkraine fund is pledging to direct 100 percent of the funds to those meeting urgent needs in Ukraine, including  IsraAID, the rapid response Israeli relief agency, which is assisting refugees of all backgrounds in neighboring Moldova.

• HIAS is  working through channels within the US and throughout Europe to support the safe and speedy resettlement of those seeking to leave Ukraine.

• The Jewish Agency for Israel has opened an emergency hotline to provide Ukrainian Jews with guidance and information regarding the immigration process, as well as general assistance.

• The Chabad-Lubavitch movement has a Ukraine Jewish Relief Fund.

• Masorti Olami has a fund for Ukrainian Relief.

• UJA-Federation of New York has a dedicated mailbox supporting its partners providing humanitarian needs in Ukraine.

• Project Kesher is currently supporting an Emergency Fund for Women in Ukraine.

• Agudath Israel has a Ukraine Emergency Relief fund that has raised $10 million as of March 10.

• United Hatzalah of Israel has sent medical professionals to Ukraine’s borders in Operation Orange Wings. Donations to their fund help deliver medical care to Ukraine.

• JRoots runs heritage trips to Poland to tell the story of the Holocaust. Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, it has repurposed to assist Ukrainian refugees into Poland and settle abroad. Contact Ayelet at +972 54-636-6512

• First-responder group IsraAID is on the scene as thousands of Ukrainians seek refuge in Moldova. IsraAID is providing psychological first aid and distributing essential relief supplies. Donations towards emergency support for Ukrainian refugees can be made here.

• Magen David Adom, Israel’s branch of Red Cross International, has established a Russian-language  refugee call center. Donations can be made here.

• Hadassah, The Women’s Zionist Organization of America has opened a fund, “Ukraine in Crisis: Save Lives at Risk!” in support of the Hadassah Medical Organization, which is already treating Ukrainian refugees at its centers in Israel.

• The Brussels-based European Jewish Association (EJA), representing hundreds of communities across the continent, has launched a Europe-wide campaign to temporarily provide homes, food and clothing to hundreds of Jewish families whose lives have been torn-apart and up-ended by the conflict in Ukraine. For further information contact: +32 (0)476056450

• The Orthodox Union has opened a Ukraine Crisis Fund to support individuals and organizations assisting people on the ground in Ukraine.

• World Jewish Relief has been working in Ukraine for the last 30 years, and has helped 13,000 older and more vulnerable Ukrainians within and beyond the Jewish community in the past year alone. Its Ukraine Crisis Appeal is raising funds to support the organization’s 29 partners in Ukraine, along with partners in neighboring Moldova and Poland, which are providing food, cash, medical, material and psychological support to those fleeing or unable to escape the violence.

• The World Union for Progressive Judaism has launched the Ukraine Crisis Fund to support the safety and well-being of the Ukrainian Jewish community.

• Keren Hayesod – United Israel Appeal is working with the Jewish Agency and the Israeli government to expedite immigration to Israel for Ukrainian Jews, as well as assist the Jewish community remaining in Ukraine with essential goods such as food, supplies, security and other necessities.

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
Diary March 18
Concerns about politics.
One of the prominent figures of the Jewish Netherlands, who is apparently occasionally tormented by the disease called jealousy, approached me with the comment that he had heard that I will be speaking next Sunday for the NIK on Zoom because of Pesach and expressed the hope that I would not speak about anti-Semitism again and would not have my message / lecture included with those Christians
Of course I don’t have to justify myself and I can do whatever I want, but it bothered me anyway. Because with “those Christians” professional recording equipment was available and “those Christians” were willing to make a good recording completely free of charge, I had made my NIK Hanukkah presentation with and by "those Christians". Some years ago I had received a similar comment, from that same person, about “those Christians” I needed to have less contact with them. I understand that setup. What I did not fully understand, however, was that the same critic then went to “those Christians” to ask for financial support for his, otherwise fine, projects.
Nothing new under the sun. I remember speaking to an eminent physician some time ago. This ‘eminence’, he told me personally, was not so much down to his expertise in his field, but as a much about his political qualities. No, he was not in politics, he was referring to politics at the top of his university hospital. When I heard a little bit of that politics I immediately thought of the rabbinic world! (Just kidding, because rabbis don't do politics!)
Because there is politics everywhere. Especially in the real and necessary democratic politics: The elections!
I haven’t been able to sleep all night. When I looked at the new composition of the House of Representatives, I was overcome with concern. I hope and pray that I misjudge it completely, but I fear it. Of course, there can be criticism of Israeli Politics, that does not have to be a sign of anti-Semitism.
But if there is only talk about Israel and not a word is mentioned about the feudal dictatorships of the countries around Israel, then I do not understand. I understand and accept that one of our prominent mayors in a speech at #MayorsAgainstAntisemtism claims that criticism of Netanyahu is allowed, as well as criticism of Rutte. But that’s not the problem. Criticism of Netanyahu is allowed, 50% of Israel criticizes him and that does not degrade them to anti-Semites. The problem is that there is almost exclusively criticism of Israel. That Israel is by far at the top of the list for UN Resolutions. The role of a mayor should be in trying to connect his townspeople, and that does not happen by importing sensitive foreign conflicts. Do I think this mayor is anti-Semitic? Absolutely not! Do I think this mayor should be allowed to criticize Netanyahu? Sure! But what I regret is that criticism of Israel unfortunately and often unintentionally leads to anti-Semitism.
How often am I not allowed to explain that I speak Dutch, although I am a Jew but not born in Israel. The superficial one-sidedness in the experience, however nuanced a mayor may present it, causes anti-Semitism here in our country. And so: if the mayor believes we should keep the Middle East problem out of the city, then criticize Israel, Jordan, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, North Korea, China, on… and on…. But even better: let the mayor try to bind the various population groups within the city limits and call them to develop activities that unite together. And then, if connections and friendships have arisen, then, despite the diversity, the friendship itself can look at bottlenecks and differences of opinion that seemed unmentionable. Do you think that can succeed? Often not, but sometimes it does.
And sometimes I cherish that, because I have sometimes been able to experience this often!
And to the prominent Jewish Dutchman I would like to say: next week it is Pesach and Jews all over the world read the Hagadah, which describes the Exodus from Egypt at that time.And what do we read there about the present and now? “Because in every generation we are rebelled against us to destroy us” literally. And then the text continues and says that G-d will save us in the end. The Jewish people live and survive, but all kinds of things happen along the way. We must know, prevent and combat that, but not deny it! I hope that the new House of Representatives will want to fight that battle with us and will want to exercise vigilance.

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