Jewish community of Montpellier

May 23, 2024

The Jewish Community of Montpellier is an active and dynamic group dedicated to serving the Jewish population in Montpellier, France. The community focuses on preserving and promoting Jewish traditions, culture, and religious observance. It organises regular religious services, including Shabbat and holiday gatherings, as well as educational programmes for all ages, such as Hebrew and Torah study classes.

In addition to religious and educational activities, the community hosts cultural events, social gatherings, and outreach programmes to foster a strong sense of belonging and identity among its members. Social services and welfare support are also provided to assist those in need within the community.

The Jewish Community of Montpellier is committed to engaging with the broader society through interfaith dialogue and cultural exchanges, promoting mutual understanding and respect among different communities. Through its diverse initiatives, the community aims to ensure the continuity of Jewish life and contribute positively to the cultural mosaic of Montpellier.

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Diary Reflections on Jewish Identity and Antisemitism in the Netherlands

“I stress time and again that most victims of ISIS are Muslims. And when a topper from our government said to me, when we were discussing anti-Semitism, that in the Netherlands today 98 per cent of anti-Semitism comes from Muslims living in our country, I pointed out to him that when 80 per cent of my family was murdered there was not a single Muslim to be seen in the Netherlands,” I wrote in my diary of 7 February. Let me add that the day after 7 October, I received a phone call from our minister of general affairs, Van Gennip, who asked interestedly how I was doing and told me that “both the Moroccan and Turkish communities in the Netherlands do not find the events of 7 October acceptable”.

Probably I am a little too naive, because as far as I know, no mosque or Islamic community has dared to publicly distance itself from the 7 October massacre. Yes, a number of befriended imams let out a sincere and condemning sound in a personal conversation (I will not mention their names here, to avoid getting into Islamic trouble), but the Islamic silence at the time and the anti-Israel demonstrations at the opening of the Holocaust Museum and the anti-Herzog call by two hundred mosques do not make me feel good and worry for the future of Jewish Holland. Where were those two hundred mosques immediately after October 7? And I dare even ask myself: is there any future for the Jewish community in my homeland?

And the Netherlands is my homeland! Through my father’s line, I am the fourteenth generation after Chief Rabbi Moses Uri Halevi, the founder of the Portuguese-Israelite Congregation in Amsterdam. His congregation made Amsterdam into Amsterdam, put the city on the map and thus made a gigantic contribution to today’s Mokum. This makes it all the more painful to see the anti-Israel demonstrations and the enormously rising anti-Semitism close to the place from which 46 thousand Amsterdam Jews were deported on the trams of the GVB in World War II to end up, via Westerbork, on the trains of our own Dutch Railways, finally via the chimneys of the crematoria in the extermination camps in the dark hole of oblivion.

I dare even ask myself: is there any future for the Jewish community in my homeland?

How was the official opening of the Holocaust Museum? King Willem-Alexander, the president of Israel, the president of Austria and the chairman of the German Bundesrat spoke impressive, well measured words. The music, the speech by my friend Emile Schrijver, director of the Jewish Cultural Quarter, the other speakers, the voices of survivors, the children and the master of ceremonies Petra Katzenstein. If I wanted to properly put into words the impression this unforgettable, historic day made on me, I would read a few lines without words.

Every word I would write would be one too many, because the opening, the ceremony, the togetherness transcended all words. It was a deeply emotional event. Words describe, but words also limit and so: not a word I can dedicate to it.

And yet something also went wrong, wrong. Throughout the happening, anti-Semitic protests were heard. While the speakers were not drowned out, the music remained audible, their roar was like false-sounding background music, which, while not distracting from the perfect programme, demonstrated how necessary the Holocaust Museum is. In my opinion, the emotional damage done to survivors present was not adequately taken into account. And although, thank God, I was born only after the war, I too felt brutalised by the shouting crowd. I cherish freedom of speech, but the bestial manner in which I was shouted at, and with me so all those who came outside the Snoge, I find unacceptable. I do not understand why this was tolerated. The location from where the chanting was carried out was also painful: Waterloo Square, the source of Jewish life in the Jewish quarter at the time!

During the ceremony, fortunately I had my phone set to ‘do not disturb’, as a number of calls had come in from enraged Jewish people who, I later learned, found it unacceptable that protests were allowed and guests were allowed to be booed as they left the Snoge. At the amazing lunch at the Jewish Museum and especially when touring the Holocaust Museum, I was able to provide a lot of pastoral care. Many felt deeply hurt and abandoned … Yet, the feeling of gratitude and joy that this great monument was officially opened prevailed with everyone.

I cherish freedom of speech, but I find the bestial way I was called names unacceptable.

With this afternoon’s anti-Semitic roar still buzzing in my ears, I watched the documentary on the Jewish Council. It won’t be too bad, it was thought at the time. And so the Jewish Council was established. How do we view the growing anti-Semitism in 2024? Will it not be too bad?

But I must stop now to pack my suitcase and then quickly go to bed. Tomorrow at six o’clock the taxi will arrive and I will be on the plane at ten to eight on my way to Oporto for a three-day conference on kashrut. I hope and expect to learn a thing or two there. Keynote speakers from the rabbinical world, experts on kashrut, will give the speeches. I also have to speak, but what and where is not quite known yet. Probably at the unveiling of the monument being unveiled there in memory of the victims of 7 October.

And meanwhile, I float between my bed and the documentary on the Jewish Council, meet the grandsons of Asscher and Cohen, the chairmen, and wonder whether I am alarmist or realist. Cohen’s grandson fights with me against rising anti-Semitism. I don’t feel myself more unsafe than usual, but anti-Semitism is getting closer … am Jisraeel chai!

Een onvergetelijke dag

Chelsea Football Club receives prestigious Jewish award for leading the way on combatting antisemitism

European Jewish Association’s King David Award gives recognition for “fearlessly and unambiguously taking the lead on the issue”, urge other clubs to follow Chelsea’s lead.
‘’Since our Club Owner Roman Abramovich initiated our ‘Say No To Antisemitism’ campaign in January 2018, we have been committed to working with Jewish organisations nationally and internationally to help stamp out antisemitism from our societies. We will continue to use our global platforms at Chelsea to say no to antisemitism and keep up the fight against this and all other forms of discrimination,”said Bruce Buck, Chairman of Chelsea FC who received the award on behalf of his club at Stamford bridge.

During Tuesday evening  Chelsea vs Juventus Champions League game at Stamford bridge, a delegation from the European Jewish Association presented the Association’s prestigious King David Award for 2021 to Bruce Buck, Chairman of the Chelsea Football Club.
The recognition comes as a result of Chelsea’s ‘’Say No to Antisemitism’’ campaign, funded by club owner Roman Abramovich, which was launched in 2018 to raise awareness of and educate players, staff, fans and the wider community about antisemitism. The long-term initiative forms part of the club’s on-going inclusion work, through the Chelsea Foundation’s Building Bridges campaign.
“We are honoured to be the latest recipients of the European Jewish Association’s King David Award,’’ said Bruce Buck who received the award on behalf of his club. ‘’Since our Club Owner Roman Abramovich initiated our ‘Say No To Antisemitism’ campaign in January 2018, we have been committed to working with Jewish organisations nationally and internationally to help stamp out antisemitism from our societies. We will continue to use our global platforms at Chelsea to say no to antisemitism and keep up the fight against this and all other forms of discrimination,” he added.
Rabbi Menachem Margolin, Chairman of the European Jewish Association said of the award, “Sport brings out the best in people, but sadly it can also bring out the worst. And some of the worst examples of antisemitism often manifest themselves on the football terraces, and in stadia around the world. Chelsea was, of course, no exception to this rule. Except, that unlike others, they decided to do something about it.’’
“It is truly inspiring to see not only the significant investment made in this effort, but the genuine commitment to listen, to act and to make a difference. From the ground up, from grassroots initiatives to a website visited by millions, Chelsea Football Club has led the way, a shining light and example not just for other football clubs to follow, but for everyone,’’ he said.
He added, ‘’Presenting them with this award, on behalf of the many communities across Europe that we represent is the least we can do to recognise this movement for change that they have started, this ultimate force for good that gives hope to Jews everywhere that the lessons of the Holocaust will never be forgotten, and that antisemitism will be called out wherever it manifests itself.’’
Rabbi Binyomin Jacobs, Chief Rabbi in the Netherlands and chairman of the EJA committee on combatting antisemitism, ‘’ underlined that ‘’the Chelsea model is one to be replicated everywhere, and we will let governments and organisations know about the great and important work you are doing here. King david is a Jewish hero.  Chelsea are now heroes to the Jewish community.’’
Lebanese businessman Abdallah Chatila, a recipient of the 2020 King David Award who made headlines worldwide when he bought 600,000 Euro worth of Nazi Memorabilia at an auction and donated it to Jewish organisations as an act of registering his disgust at the auction, and who since has supported many initiatives that combat antisemitism, added:
“Antisemitism targets Jews but infects society as a whole. Ignorance, hatred and xenophobia have no place in a world where borders are increasingly meaningless, where values are universal and where different identities are to be cherished. I am proud to be here tonight at Chelsea, to be a continuing link in a chain of those committed to combatting antisemitism. Chelsea Football Club have a huge reach. They could have opted for an easier route. Instead they decided to tackle the issue head-on. It is inspiring to see. And for others to follow and emulate.”

European Commission produces practical handbook on implementing the IHRA definition of antisemitism

The EJA thanks the European Commission for producing this practical handbook on implementing the IHRA definition of antisemitism. It will be a valuable tool for governments and organisations who are currently navigating the difficult political waters we find ourselves in, where intolerance and antisemitism are alarmingly on the rise.

State of Israel must enact a law against auctions of Nazi items'

The European Jewish Association (EJA) is drafting an injunction against a shameful auction by an Israeli auction house, “Pentagon,” that offers the highest bidder, among other things: “A postcard of a Jew with a Nazi stamp on his face. rare!!! At an opening price of $50.”
The description of Item 162 reads, “An original canvas film of an employee in the gas chambers of the Dachau concentration camp at an opening price of $500,” and, “A postcard of a Jew with a Nazi stamp on his face. rare!!! At an opening price of $50.”
EJA Chairman Rabbi Menachem Margolin, addressed the Minister of Justice and The Chairman of Yad Vashem, saying, “The State of Israel must enact a law against auctions of Nazi items!”
Rabbi Margolin emphasized: “Despite the shock we all felt with the previous sale of Nazi tattoo stamps used on the arms of Auschwitz prisoners, here again, to our shame, I am forced to address you in a hurry and with a deep sense of shock to request that you act immediately to prevent another shameful auction of Nazi items by an Israeli auction house.”

He added, “At the European Jewish Association, EJA, we work resolutely and steadily both in the continental countries and with EU institutions to prohibit the trade and auction of Nazi items for profit. We are working closely with heads of state, ministers, and senior parliamentarians in EU countries to prevent the trivialization and promotion of Nazi heritage by putting such despicable items up for sale to the highest bidder. However, shamefully, it turns out that in the Jewish state, the State of Israel – again, there are those who want to tout these items and sell them to the highest bidder.”
“In response to my previous letter, it was noted that things were being taken care of, but unfortunately, your eyes see, instead of recoiling from the negative public echo, there are those who see it as a ‘sales promotion.’ It is time to act to stop such auctions by enacting legislation.”
“Of course, we are at your disposal to help formulate a legislative framework that will end this despicable phenomenon of making money in brazen contempt of the memory of the Holocaust and the memory of those who perished, not to mention the feelings of the survivors,” Rabbi Margolin wrote

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