European Jewish leaders gather in Portugal’s Porto to observe community’s revival

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May 17, 2023

PORTO, Portugal — Dozens of European Jewish community leaders convened in the Portuguese city of Porto on Monday for a conference on communal strategies, including lessons from how the city’s local Jews have attracted hundreds of new congregants.

“The leaders of the Jewish community of Porto can be a great example of how just a few individuals who believe in Judaism, in the future of Jewish life, can do magnificent work,” said Rabbi Menachem Margolin, the director of the European Jewish Association, a Brussels-based lobby group that hosted the conference in Porto.

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New Cooperation with The Jewish Community of Netherlands Israeelitische Hoofdsynagoge Arnhem (NIHS-Arnhem)

The European Jewish Association is proud and delighted to welcome another organisation to our growing roster of partners and communities.
We have just concluded and signed a memorandum of understanding with The Jewish Community of Netherlands Israeelitische Hoofdsynagoge Arnhem (NIHS-Arnhem)
When two dynamic and active Jewish organisations get together and agree to work closely with one another, beautiful and important things flow from this. We look forward to working for the betterment of Dutch and European Jewry together.

European Parliament in Strasbourg debates President Trump's recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital , Leading Rabbi asks Parliament leadership to act as 'voices of Reason'

The European Parliament is set to discuss Tuesday in Strasbourg US President Donald Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. The debate in the plenary session of the parliament will focus on the status granted to the city by Presdient Trump who set out last Wednesday his intention to move the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, a move that was subsequently backed up by two EU member states, the Czech Republic and Hungary.
STRASBOURG —The European Parliament is set to discuss Tuesday in Strasbourg US President Donald Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
The debate in the plenary session of the parliament will focus on the status granted to the city by Presdient Trump who set out last Wednesday his intention to move the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, a move that was subsequently backed up by two EU member states, the Czech Republic and Hungary.
The decision has prompted a backlash and led to violence on the Palestinian side.
Some officials in Europe have asserted that the American decision will ignite tensions in the region.
Ahead of the Strasbourg debate, Rabbi Menachem Margolin, the founder and Director of the Brussels based European Jewish Association which represents Jews across the continent, wrote a letter to the European Parliament President, Vice-Presidents and heads of political groups asking them to act as “voices of Reason” during the debate. 
In his letter Rabbi Margolin said, ‘Some have asserted that this decision will ignite tensions in the region. It should be noted that some Member States unilaterally recognised the State of Palestine even before the respective parties reached understandings.’’
He continued, ‘The European Parliament has a delegation for relations with Palestine which was put in place before official state recognition and before the parties again reached understandings. There are Palestinian embassies all over the world, before the parties reached understandings.‘President Trump did not say that united Jerusalem is the capital of Israel. He said the borders will be discussed during the negotiations between the sides.’
For Rabbi Margolin,  the furore over the US move is ‘’unwarranted, unjustified and is one-sided to say the least.’’
‘’Furthermore such voices reward the incitement to violence and violence that is being perpetuated on the Palestinian side. Such a reward would be incompatible and would not be expected from the House that you represent,’’ reads the letter to the MEPs.
“I earnestly hope that voices of reason will prevail during the debate, and you will use the opportunity to remind the house of the facts outlined in my letter,”  Rabbi Margolin concluded.   

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

Every Day during the Corona crisis our Advisory Board Member Chief Rabbi 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.
Here, the Rabbi offers his unique and refreshing take on the portion. For our Dutch readers you can follow the diary every day at NIW home page: https://niw.nl and then: scroll down.
Caught with a cap!
It’s hard to find the right balance between exaggeration and naivety. The happy medium is the right way to walk, that should be clear. But where does that sweet spot lie?
I had not heard from an older intelligent lady, a brave woman, for several weeks. And so I called her up and it turned out that she had been struggling a bit with her health for a while.
Good that I called her, but I do feel guilty that I had only noticed her absence now, after a few weeks. In the meantime, since I called her, she has started reading some of my diaries and sends me the following response:
“Dear Rabbi Jacobs. I read in your diary pieces that you meet many people with personal problems and are very concerned about the rising anti-Semitism. That seems very difficult. I find it terrible to read those experiences. It’s too much for me. And after the war I had to hear in technicolour stereo about all the horrors of survivors of the camps. For me, the war started after May ‘45. I’d rather not read all that misery you have to hear and deal with. ”
And so, after this response, I wonder what the happy medium is. I try to warn against  rising anti-Semitism, but I absolutely must. Conversely I do not want to cause more pain to anyone who is already in pain.
I received a lot of WhatsApps to make “the Jewish voice” heard about the riot around Forum for Democracy. But what is “the Jewish voice”? And am I then “the Jewish  voice”? But keep silent? I presented my problem to a good friend of mine, a non-Jewish psychiatrist. When I open my mouth, some of them start to scream or I, for example hurt this brave woman unnecessarily. And when I remain silent, I get complaints that I am not speaking. His response was very clear:
“If you don’t open your mouth now, you’re no longer a rabbi to me. And if your comments make people sad, help them. That is your primary task as a rabbi. ”
But in addition to concerns about rising anti-Semitism and all the tensions associated with it, Hanukkah is getting very close. Today a phone call from Jerusalem to make a video while lighting the menorah at my house, without guests, with a call to light the menorah outside even if it is not possible outside due to corona, especially to do it indoors.
The call must be in Dutch after lighting the third light. A second phone call, also today, from Brussels to, even after the third light has been lit, a message in English about a non-religious subject, but about Hanukkah.
And the third assignment, a request came from South America to give a speech in Dutch of 25 minutes. That will be asked of another seven Chief Rabbis. Every evening a rabbi from another country will speak and subtitles will be provided. Apart from this I also have three TV recordings about… Chanukah next week! After all those telephone requests for TV, zoom, videos, Whatsapps and YouTube, I wonder if I could become a better director.
But in the meantime I will have to work very hard on the preparations for the coming week. I have already found a volunteer professional to record the videos. But the words are on me. That is a nice bit of creative tension.
Yet all these problems create tension, sadness and disappointment. It got a bit too much for me. And so I skipped schul tonight. My wife and I took the car to the beach.
Of course I didn’t wear my hat, but a cap. Just incognito. Get some fresh air. Delicious! We walk on the boulevard for less than twenty minutes, smell the water, feel the wind or suddenly someone behind me shouts: Rabbi Jacobs! Why don’t you wear a hat? You always say that we should not give in to anti-Semitism and keep our Jewish clothing like our ancestors in Egypt. You always say you are not willing to exchange your hat for a baseball cap! I didn’t know what to answer for a moment, I felt caught with my cap, but the walk was very refreshing…
 

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