Meeting with Mart Laidmets, Secretary General at the Ministry of Education and Research of the Republic of Estonia

November 13, 2019

Last week, on 7 November 2019, the European Jewish Association and our partners from the Action and Protection Foundation/ Hungary/ have gathered in Brussels to further advance ongoing work on the European Curriculum and Textbook Project against Antisemitism. Incidentally, the meeting took place just a day after a similar one in Riga, Latvia.
At the meeting, where the EJA has been represented by Alex Benjamin (Director of Public Affairs) and the APF by Szalai Kálmán(Secretary), we have met Mart Laidmets, Secretary General at the Ministry of Education and Research of the Republic of Estonia. The meeting took place at the Permanent Representation of the Republic of Estonia to the European Union, with which the EJA has had the pleasure and honour to cooperate on at least several occasions over the past years.

Following a description of the earlier seven-year programme implemented in Hungary, its characteristics and outcomes, the Estonian system of education has been discussed – its gradual development over the past decades, international cooperation with foreign partners, realization of various EU programmes as well as transition to a web-based learning system at schools, which nowadays is one of the most advanced in Europe.
Mr. Secretary General has expressed, on behalf of the Ministry, interest in potential cooperation with us and promised to convey the information and proposal received to H.E. Madam Minister. In particular, prospects for collaboration on web-based learning materials shall be evaluated.
We are most thankful to Mr. Laidmets and the Ministry for this opportunity to meet and discuss the initiative, and eagerly look forward to further contacts on the present subject and others.

Additional Articles

EJA asks President Duda to defer final decision on Holocaust law until meeting takes place, explores legal challenge at Polish Constitutional court

European Jewish Association asks President Duda to defer final decision on Holocaust law until meeting takes place, explores legal challenge at Polish Constitutional court

European Jewish Association (EJA) Chairman Rabbi Menachem Margolin has written to Polish President Duda asking him to defer any final decision on new laws passed at the weekend in the House and approved last night by the Senate with regards to the Holocaust and designation of concentration camps until a meeting with Jewish leaders takes place.

Rabbi Margolin also said that if all attempts at reasoning failed, the European Jewish Association would mount a legal challenge to the legislation in Poland’s Constitutional court, as it did when it won a ruling against Polish legislation affecting Kosher slaughter.  In a statement Rabbi Margolin said,

“It is with deep regret that I must write to the President of Poland and record the insult caused to the memory of those who died though this clumsy, ill thought out legislation. I have urged President Duda to defer any final decision on ratifying the legislation until at least having met with me and a delegation of Jewish leaders.

“I also note that despite being a member of the IHRA, Poland has yet to adopt formally the definition of Anti-Semitism Lithuania, Germany, Austria, Romania and the United Kingdom have formally adopted the definition. Given the damage being done to Polish-Jewish relations because of the bill, we believe that Polish adoption of the IHRA definition would assuage some of the concerns being expressed by European Jewry when it comes to Poland. 

“However, if reasoning and dialogue fails, the EJA will, as we successfully did in the past on efforts to ban Kosher slaughter, challenge this matter to Poland’s Constitutional court.”

Rabbi Margolin has also written to the heads of all the EU Institutions: Council President Tusk, Commission President Juncker, Justice Commissioner Jourova and European Parliament President Tajani, asking them to reprimand the Polish government.  “It seems inconceivable that an EU Member State can be permitted to, in such a crass way, wash its hands of what happened by slapping draconian legislation that threatens to imprison people for holding an alternative view, in this case, a majority of European Jews”, said Margolin. 

Greetings for the Upcoming Rosh HaShanah by Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Belgium, H.E. Mr. Charles Michel

Jewish groups alarmed as Greece poised to ban kosher slaughter

The Hellenic Council of State, the highest court, in Greece, ruled on Tuesday to ban halal and kosher slaughter, raising alarm among Jewish religious groups concerned about infringements on religious freedoms.
saw the court revoke the standing slaughter permit, which was provided through a ministerial decision that exempted ritual Jewish and Muslim slaughter practices from the general requirement to stun animals prior to killing them.
The ruling further called on Greek lawmakers to devise a way to meet the demands of animal rights advocates and the needs of Jews and Muslims who follow the laws about food in their traditions.

"The government should regulate the issue of slaughtering animals in the context of worship in such a way as to ensure both the protection of animals from any inconvenience during slaughter and the religious freedom of religious Muslims and Jews living in Greece," Greek news site Protothema cited the ruling.

"We warned in December about the downstream consequences that the European Court of Justice ruling carried with it, and now we see the outcome," Director-General of the European Jewish Association Rabbi Menachem Margolin told JTA.

"Jewish freedom of religion is under direct attack. It started in Belgium, moved to Poland and Cyprus, and now it is Greece's turn," he warned.
Bans on ritual slaughter have been implemented in several countries across the region, including Sweden, Slovenia, Estonia, Denmark, and Finland.
The bans are part of a struggle across Europe between animal welfare activists and Muslim and Jewish community representatives.
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The European Court of Justice ruled last year that all member states had to "reconcile both animal welfare and freedom of religion."
The EJC's Dec. 17 ruling effectively upheld a 2017 decree by the Flemish government to ban ritual slaughter without stunning, as required by most interpretations of Jewish and Muslim law, but said that imposed stricter regulation on ritual slaughter were up to the states themselves. The ruling further urged member states to "adequately and proportionately consider freedom of religion" when making such rulings.
i24NEWS contributed to this report.
https://www.israelhayom.com/2021/10/28/jewish-groups-alarmed-as-greeces-top-court-rules-against-ritual-slaughter/

Rabbi Jacobs Covid Diary gets published!

Chief Rabbi’s unique take and thoughts on the pandemic collected in a book to be launched
Wednesday.
Chief Rabbi Jacobs, a regular contributor here, a dear friend and advisory Board member has had his
unique, stimulating and thought-provoking Covid Diary published in Dutch.
The book will be launched at the Jewish Historical Museum in Amsterdam where Rabbi Vorst, will be
one of the speakers. The first book will be given to Mrs. Blouma Jacobs-Raskin, the Chief Rabbi’s wife.
Some of the reviews of the book are found below:
"In recent years, Chief Rabbi Jacobs has developed into the ambassador of Judaism and the Jewish
community in the Netherlands. In these diary entries he gives a unique insight into what that means:
traveling from north to south, appearances for media, and having very personal conversations. As a
true balance artist, he has both feet in the Jewish community and in Dutch society. "
Bart Wallet, historian
"Who is Chief Rabbi Jacobs? This book gives us a glimpse into the life and work of the man who know
so many people and who is so widely appreciated. This diary shows us some of his thoughts and ideals.
Who is Chief Rabbi Jacobs? A highly respected member of our Jewish community and a dear friend
who has always supported and will continue to support the State of Israel. "
Naor Gilon, Israeli Ambassador to the Netherlands
"Chief Rabbi Jacobs gives us an insight into his versatile daily activities. The diary is varied: every day
raises the question of what the next day will bring. Apparently light-footed, but always with a profound
undertone, he makes poignant observations that testify to a deep understanding of people and the
world. "
Rev. Frank Heikoop, chairman Christians for Israel
"During the many conversations I have with Chief Rabbi Jacobs, he talks about his daily adventures.
He travels all over the country, is an important Jewish voice in politics in The Hague and a sparring
partner for municipalities. He knows what is going on among Jews in the Netherlands. That's why it's
great that this chronicle of his is now being published.”
Esther Voet, editor-in-chief Nieuw Israëlitisch Weekblad.
"The Chief Rabbi's Corona Diary is not about the virus, its horrors, and the restrictions placed on our
daily lives. Binyomin Jacobs has written down how, from the rich traditions of Judaism, he reacted to
what came his way every day. Those traditions are leading for him and not the virus. Refreshing and
offering perspective for everyone, I think. "
Wim Deetman, former Minister of Education and Science
A link to buy the book (in dutch) is HERE

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