Federal Chancellor of Austria Blessings for Rosh HaShanah

September 29, 2020

The EJA warmly thanks Federal Chancellor of Austria, H.E. Sebastian Kurz for His Excellency's kind wishes to the European Jewry in light of the recent holiday of Rosh Hashanah.

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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
Eli, Mazal Tov!
Our grandson Eli turned three! My daughter, his mother, blew up 150 balloons for it and it turned into a drive-in party. I'll come back to it in a moment.
We are plagued here in Holand by rioters, detritus. Of course the riots are served up with a side order of ‘rational’ sauce.
The youth do not feel heard, the vaccine is not good and there will be more explanations as to why this looting is taking place. Cars are set on fire, windows smashed, police cars overturned. Polygamy must be allowed and forced prostitution is acceptable. And at the same time we speak with justified horror and disgust about glitterati such as Epstein, Weinstein and fashion king Jean-Luc Brunel who, despite their criminal lives, could and were allowed to afford themselves anything.
If everything is allowed and everything is possible, is it any wonder that this kind of criminally smelly rich activity goes on and on ?! Morality is totally lost. Is there a new phenomenon?
In the Pirke Avot, the ethics of the Fathers, we read (3: 2) that we should pray for the welfare of the royal family because if there is no authority people devour each other alive. And that is exactly what is happening now. Anarchy and therefore aimless looting, burning cars, blocking entrances to hospitals and completely destroying individual hard-working people.
As it was really unimaginable six months ago that the Capitol in the USA could be penetrated, it is no longer inconceivable in our own peaceful polder country that something like this could also happen here in our government buildings. I cannot imagine that this is not yet taken into account by the police. At the German cemetery in Ysselsteyn, an educational centre is being set up that shows how easily people can be transformed into inhuman beings. There, SS killers and Dutch traitors lie buried next to regular soldiers who were often forced, against their will, to go to war they absolutely did not want. But many of them, still young, were brainwashed and believed that good is bad and that there are Aryans and Jews, Humans and Superman.
I am convinced that ten or twenty years from now, most rioters will look back with horror at the present and be filled with shame.
By coincidence (although coincidence really does not exist!) I came across a speech I gave in 2010 on the occasion of 65 years of liberation:
“Freedom is not everything is allowed and everything is possible and freedom does not mean that we can and must tolerate everything. Freedom has limits and requires individual commitment, training, education and respect for others. Freedom cannot tolerate everything, freedom has its limitations, freedom starts with you, with me, for the sake of all of us.
They fought for freedom
For then, for tomorrow and for the present
But if freedom means, everything is possible and everything is allowed
And respect is disappearing for Government and for authority
When values ​​and norms fade and disappear
When people only think of themselves and their own
And for the other there is no place and there is no place
If it is common to think that it should
Then the freedom of that time is not the freedom of the present
Isn't it the freedom they fought for?”
I don't want to include the 1940s-45s. Despite the riots, despite comparisons that might be drawn, we have a Government that may not be excellent with respect to Corona, but it is reliable. Rutte can absolutely not be compared to any villainous potentate. He is a good person who wants to do what is right for his citizens.
However, I would like to mention that today is International Holocaust Remembrance Day. That Holocaust also started with looting, brainwashing, indoctrination, maleficent education.
My grandson Eli who lives in Montreal turned three today. There is a custom not to cut a boy's hair until his third birthday because man is compared in the Torah to a tree in the field. And just as the fruit of the tree must be left untouched for the first three years, so too, the hair is not cut until the boy is three. Eli has received presents, put money in the Tzedaka (charity) box , he was allowed to say aleph beit and lick the letters that were smeared with honey. Tomorrow he will be wrapped in a tallit and carried into the Jewish school and sweets will be thrown at him.
Obviously, corona is a bummer here, but I am convinced that my son-in-law and daughter will do everything as normal as possible while respecting the corona rules. So Eli is raised from day one with positive thoughts, deeds and gifts. He will not get a pistol or a frightening dragon from his grandpas and grandmas. We gave him, via zoom, his own kiddush cup, a small one of course. He is now wearing a yarmulke and tzitzit.
And so, his parents invest from a very young age in his Jewish upbringing and pray daily that Eli may continue to follow the right path, the way of Torah and Tradition, so that he will be a blessing not only for his own family but also for the society as a whole.
Eli, Mazal Tov!

Head of European Jewish Association: We're not wanted here

As ban on kosher slaughter takes hold in most of Belgium, Rabbi Menachem Margolin wants that legislation in some countries on the continent are making Jews feel like second class citizens
The latest ban on kosher slaughter in Europe is just another restriction placed on the continent's Jews and adds to the sense that the community is not wanted, says the head of the European Jewish Association (EJA).
"This is a true tragedy for the entire Jewish community," says Rabbi Menachem Margolin, regarding the recent prohibition of kosher slaughter in the Wallonia region of Belgium
The Wallonia ban joins a prohibition on kosher slaughter in the northern Flanders region of Belgium, making the Jewish ritual effectively illegal in two thirds of the country, where more than 40,000 Jews reside.
The rabbi, himself a Belgian citizen, sees growing restrictions and limitations on the rights of the European Jewish communities all over
the continent, and does not accept the humanitarian reasons legislators cling to in explaining the ban on kosher slaughter.
"Hunting for fun and sport is still allowed in Belgium," Margolin tells Ynet. "More animals are killed by hunting across Belgium than by kosher slaughter, not to mention the problemetic conditions of regular slaughter, which are allowed throughout the country.
"From the way the animals are transported to the food they eat and the conditions they live in, there are endless problems regarding the treatment of animals in Belgium. Jewish people care for the animals, and kosher slaughter is much more humane then any other forms of slaughter."
Although anti-Semitism in Europe is on the rise, Margolin doesn't see it as the reason for the new law; instead he blames political lobbyists.
"The real tragedy is the fact that the politicians who were so moved by the animal rights lobbyists ignored the pleas of the Jewish community, and this kind of law makes the entire Jewish population of the country feel unwelcome."

A kosher restaurant in Antwerp, Belgium (Photo: AP)
A kosher restaurant in Antwerp, Belgium (photo: AP)
The rabbi says that the new legislation makes Jews feel unwanted in Europe.
"The main issue is not the meat itself - we can eat fish and pasta if we want - it's whether we feel safe and wanted, it's whether we need to find another place to live," he says.
"Some of the countries in Europe, whether on purpose or not, give their local Jewish communities the feeling they're not wanted in their own country, like they're second-class citizens, like they have less rights than other citizens. This is indeed a tragedy."
But, Margolin says, European Jews cannot surrender in the battle for their religious rights.
"We need to work very hard, and even now, we're not giving up," he says. "We successfully prevented the ban on kosher slaughter and circumcision in Holland, Poland and other countries, I'm sure this time we'll succeed as well."
Margolin is also doubtful that the changes in law will push members of the Jewish communtiy to move to Israel.
"People don’t usually want to move unless they have a noose around their neck," he says.
The article was published on Ynet News

ICELAND AMBASSADOR MEETING ‘CONSTRUCTIVE’ OVER CIRCUMCISION BILL SAYS JEWISH ASSOCIATION HEAD

Meeting in Brussels paves the way for European Jewish Association to make case against the Bill in Icelandic Parliament in weeks ahead

In what was described by European Jewish Association Chairman Rabbi Margolin as a “fruitful and constructive” meeting with Her Excellency Mrs. Bergdís Ellertsdóttir at the Icelandic Embassy in Brussels today, the Ambassador said that the Circumcision Bill was not a government backed initiative.  

The Ambassador and her deputy also suggested that Rabbi Margolin should continue dialogue and make the case against the Bill at the Parliament in Iceland, an offer that will be taken up in the weeks ahead.

Speaking after today’s meeting Rabbi Margolin said:

“The Ambassador had a very common-sense and pragmatic approach to this issue, and her words were very re-assuring. It is clear from this meeting that this is a party-led initiative and not one that enjoys the initiative or direct support of the Icelandic Parliament as a whole. This on it’s own is a good start.

‘It is our intention is to dialogue directly with Icelandic Parliamentarians and with the Committee responsible in Iceland in the short weeks ahead.

‘Our expressed concern to the Ambassador is the origin of such legislation, given that it only affects, at best 3 Icelandic children per year who would be circumcised for the purposes of the Jewish faith. Why is a such a bill is even required in the first place? It reeks of the type of populism that is all too sadly manifesting itself across the European Continent at the present time. Her Excellency assured us that our remarks would be reported directly back to the Government in Iceland

“The import of such legislation ever becoming law is that it sets precedence for other European nations, and normalises the branding of the entire Jewish population as “criminals” for performing this important, vital and precious rite of ours. It cannot and will not be allowed to happen.” 

To watch a video of Rabbi Margolin speaking about the meeting click on the picture.

The Labour party approves a draft action plan against antisemitism to be submitted to the government’s anti-racist body

The Labour party’s ruling national executive committee (NEC) has approved a draft action plan against antisemitism it is required to submit to the Equalities and Human Rights Commission (EHRC), the government anti-racist body,  ahead of a deadline later this week, The Jewish Chronicle reported.
The plan comes in response to  recommendations  of the EHRC report into antisemitism in the party.
The Labour’s action plan comprises the 18 key recommendations of the EHRC report, including the setting up of an independent complaints process to handle  allegations of antisemitism, other forms of discrimination and bullying.
The party had receive a 10 December deadline to produce a draft action plan in response to the findings and recommendations of the report released by the government anti-racist and equality body.
A Labour spokesperson said: ”Labour’s national executive committee has given its approval to the draft action plan it is required to submit to the EHRC this week.
“It covers all the EHRC’s recommendations and is an important step towards Keir Starmer and Angela Rayner’s commitment to rebuilding trust and confidence with our Jewish members and the Jewish community.”
The action plan is believed to contain details on how  Labour intends to live up to Keir Starmer’s zero tolerance commitment to reports of antisemitism in the party in the future, how it will introduce training sessions on anti-Jewish racism to be conducted by the Jewish Labour Movement, and how it will effectively monitor improvements to ensure lasting change within the party.
Asked to comment the process in the Labour party by its new leader Keir Starmer, Gideon Falter, Chairman of the UK-based Campaign Against Antisemitism, who has been in the forefront of the battle to refer the party  to EHRC because it was not taking its complaints against former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn seriously, said: ‘’‘’The point is that this is a man, Jeremy Corbyn, who put 47% of British Jews in fear of their future in this country.He surely cannot be allowed by his political party, which claims to be anti-racist, to go without answer for that. He must be held to account in a fair, independent disciplinary process.’’
Falter added during a webinar hosted by the European Jewish Association: ‘’If this is going to be polluted by Keir Starmer’s  political considerations about who has the power in Labour, then I don’t think the party has learned his lesson. The Labour party has to secure justice against anti-Semites.’’
Last month, Starmer decided not to readmit Corbyn in its parliamentary ranks despite the fact that a Labour disciplinary panel lifted the suspension of Corbyn’s party membership.

The Equality and Human Rights Commission investigation identified serious failings in leadership and an inadequate process of handling anti-Semitism complaints.
Its report said the party was responsible for three breaches of the Equality Act: political interference in anti-Semitism complaints, failure to provide adequate training to those handling anti-Semitism complaints and harassment.
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