New President for the Jewish State of Israel

June 2, 2021

Israel has a new President, Mr Isaac Herzog. The Herzog’s have a fine tradition of important positions in Israel: his grandfather was a Chief Rabbi of Israel, and his father, Chaim, a former President of Israel too.

We wish the 11th President of Israel lots of Mazal, lots of strength and lots of courage. Qualities that we know from our many contacts with Mr Herzog, are not in short supply where he is concerned.

Additional Articles

EU leaders welcome EU strategy on combating antisemitism and fostering Jewish life

EU leaders, who ended Friday a two-day meeting in Brussels to discuss a series of topics, welcomed the  EU Strategy on combating antisemitism and fostering Jewish life presented by the European Commission.
In their meeting conclusions, they said that last week’s Malmö International Forum on Holocaust Remembrance and Combating Antisemitism ‘’is a reminder that no effort must be spared in fighting all forms of antisemitism, racism and xenophobia.’’
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BELGIAN COURT DECISION TO BAN CENTRAL TENET OF JEWISH FAITH IS OPPORTUNITY FOR EUROPEAN COUNTRIES TO FULLY STAND BEHIND THEIR JEWISH COMMUNITIES

(Brussels 1st October 2021) Belgian Constitutional Court decision to uphold effective ban on Kosher slaughter is an opportunity for other European Countries to stand fully behind their Jewish Communities and protect this central tenet of faith and practice.
Rabbi Menachem Margolin adds that European countries must not fall into the trap of being ‘two faced: solidly protecting us from antisemitism on one side, whilst making it impossible for Jews to practice their faith by legislating against us on the other”.
The Belgian constitutional court on Thursday upheld a decision by the European Court of Justice banning religious slaughter without pre-stunning, thereby also upholding a similar decision by the Belgian Walloon and Flemish governments.
In a statement this morning, Rabbi Menachem Margolin – Chairman of the Brussels based European Jewish Association, a pro-Jewish advocacy organising representing hundreds of communities across the continent – lamented the move but said it provided an opportunity for European countries to show their support to Jews:
“The Belgian Constitutional Court have shamefully upheld a decision that is openly hostile to a fundamental pillar of Jewish practice.
“What gets to the Jewish Communities the most is the two-faced approach of some countries towards Jewish Communities. On the one side they are solidly supportive when it comes to the fight against antisemitism, on the other they have no difficulty in effectively legislating Jewish faith and practice out of existence.
“Worse still these countries are blissfully ignorant of this massive contradiction and its catastrophic effects on Jews across Europe. This decision, if replicated, is a real threat to Jewish life across Europe. Every bit as threatening as rising antisemitism, and in a sense even worse as it directly targets the very tenets of our beliefs. Now is the time for European Countries to stand behind their Jewish Communities and leave Belgium isolated and an outlier of how not to treat Jews”.
 

Statement from Our Advisory Board Member Rabbi Binyomin Jacobs

Our Advisory Board Member Chief Rabbi Binyomin Jacobs (NL) statement after the main group of protestant churches in holland made a statement apologising for their treatment of jews through the ages and during the war. 
 
On Sunday 8 November, the PKN, the union of Protestant Churches in the Netherlands, put forward an official apology for antisemitism throughout the ages and especially for their position during the Shoah (Holocaust).
 
In a live interview on Dutch Television last night, EJA Advisory Board Member, Rabbinical Centre of Europe Director of interfaith relations and Chief Rabbi of the Netherlands Binyomin Jacobs gave his response.
 
Extracts of his comments are below:
 
“It is commendable that the current church leadership admit wholeheartedly and in no uncertain terms that the Church as an institution could and should have done more. I am grateful for that recognition, that statement is important. But I want to make it clear for my part that I don’t blame the current Church leaders, because they have done nothing wrong.
 
They are from after the war, nothing can be blamed for them. They did not send my family to the gas-chambers, they did not even watch.
 
When I was asked by the PKN to attend the official celebration of 500 years of the Reformation on October 31, 2017, I initially refused to accept that invitation. I declined to attend a meeting where a notorious anti-Semite would be honoured.
 
Of course, the scribe today cannot help the fact that his great-great-grandfather held Luther’s erroneous theology towards the Jews of paramount importance as a Christian. In fact, he completely disagreed with the anti-Semitic statements of the great Christian master.
 
But how can I, as a Jew, join the celebration? “Show that you renounce his anti-Semitic statements, exclaim that you find that unacceptable,” I said to my friend Rev. de Reuver. He agreed wholeheartedly. Twice at that meeting, in the presence of our Lord, they publicly distanced themselves from the anti-Semitic writings and statements.
 
Fifty years after the war, I was confronted with a tidal wave of monuments commemorating murdered Jews. Disclosure after disclosure. I remember asking a young mayor at the beginning of that period: why only now? Had it not been noted earlier that fellow Jewish citizens had not returned? And his answer has always stayed with me: “My predecessor did not want to be reminded of 1940 -45.That period did not suit him, those years had to be covered up as much as possible.
 
Within that framework I see this statement. I am deeply grateful to the heroes who saved the lives of my mother and many others without any form of profit, free of charge, at great risk to their own lives. I think of Rev. Overduin, Rev. Slomp, Rev. Koopmans, Rev. Buskes, and I also think of Mgr. de Jong.
 
And I am certainly thinking of resistance fighters who were arrested by cowardly betrayal before they could have done anything. No one has heard of them, they were brutally eliminated for refusing to watch. Above all, let us never forget them and keep commemorating them, despite their anonymity.
But at the same time we know that far too little was done in the war, that the churches certainly also kept silent too much and that “over the centuries the church helped prepare the breeding ground on which the seeds of anti-Semitism and hatred could grow”, as was reflected in the statement. For centuries Jews were dismissed as G-d killers who would receive their just deserts.
 
And it was good that the period after the war was also mentioned. My grandparents made every effort to take in their nieces and nephews whose parents had been murdered. To keep them for Judaism, as their parents would have liked. Driven by their faith, these ‘parents’, who had saved their lives completely selflessly, refused to return their Jewish children in hiding to where they should be. Many of these orphans are still suffering from the identity crisis afflicted them, the result of an unhealthy and unacceptable urge to convert.
 
The Christian Churches have put a line behind the past with their confession and recognition. But, more importantly to me, it has been clearly stated that they intend to fight with us against contemporary anti-Semitism.
 
In the time of the Crusades we had the wrong faith and entire Jewish congregations were exterminated by the crusaders. In the Middle Ages we were the virus that caused the plague and so we had to be exterminated, my dear parents were of the wrong race. And I am a Zionist! Of course there can be criticism of Israel’s government policy, half Israel is against Netanyahu, just as not every Dutchman is for Rutte (I am!). But anti-Zionism is committed to the destruction of the State of Israel, the extermination of the Jewish people. Anti-Zionism is anti-Semitism.
 
Daily through the ages, we offer our prayers towards Jerusalem. Jerusalem, where today all religions in the world are allowed to live their religion in freedom, is inextricably linked with the Jewish people, with the survivors of 1940-45, with me.
 
Churches: leave politics to politicians. Recognize the mutated virus that has destroyed millions and millions of my people over the centuries and is now called anti-Zionism.
 
The PKN of today should not have had to explain the mea-culpa for me, the past is over. But the link so clearly drawn from the persecution of the Jews through the ages and the passive attitude of the majority of the churches when my family was taken away never to return, that link to the now and to the future, the intention to develop Judeo-Christian relations into a deep friendship, in which everyone can remain himself and therefore no attempts are made to convert, to want to be connected in the fight against contemporary anti-Semitism, that purpose, that statement makes me deeply grateful. The words of the statement, of the Christian churches, were good. I have hope yes, but expectation too.”
 

‘Holocaust was a scam’ projected on Swedish synagogue during international antisemitism conference

(JTA) — Swedish police are investigating how the words “the Holocaust was a scam” were projected onto the main synagogue in Malmö while that city was holding an international forum on combating antisemitism.
The projection was seen on the Synagogue of Malmö and on other buildings in cities across southern Sweden on Wednesday night, the day of the Malmö International Forum on Holocaust Remembrance and Combating Antisemitism.
Police are handling the case as a hate crime, the Swedish newspaper Dagens Nyheter reported.
The Nordic Resistance Movement, a neo-Nazi group, claimed responsibility for the incident, according to Dagens Nyheter.
The conference had brought together heads of state and other prominent government officials from dozens of countries in a city known for its high rates of antisemitism.
Israel’s strikes in Gaza in 2009 triggered a wave of antisemitic assaults in Malmö, which had then over 1,000 Jews. Then mayor Ilmar Reepalu reacted by instructing the local Jewish community to distance itself from Israel, giving many the impression that he was blaming the victims.
The Jewish community in Sweden’s third-largest city has since dwindled down to around 500.
Despite Wednesday’s synagogue incident, Katharina von Schnurbein, the European Commission’s coordinator on combating antisemitism, told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency on Friday that she thinks the conference shows that “change is possible.”
“The fact that the conference happened in Malmö sends a message, that this sort of thing will not be accepted and will be confronted,” von Schnurbein said.
At the conference, she presented a new strategic plan for combating antisemitism and fostering Jewish life in Europe, published by the European Commission on Oct. 5.
Although the plan does not include a stated budget, von Schurbein said, “it will tap into programs in various departments” and its “components will receive millions of euros in funding in the coming period.”
Among the goals of the plan is to set up a cross-European methodology for documenting and reporting antisemitic hate crimes.
On Tuesday, Jewish community leaders at a separate conference in Brussels complained that the EU plan was “not serious” because it does not address two issues that have alienated local Jews for years: bans on the ritual slaughter of animals and attempts to ban non-medical circumcision.
Von Schurbein said the plan does reference the ritual slaughter issue. Members states need to find “a fair balance between respect for the freedom to manifest religion and the protection of animal welfare,” the document states.
The EU Commission and her office intend to facilitate efforts to strike the balance, von Schnurbein said, and call on “EU countries to ensure through policy and legal measures that Jews can live their lives in accordance with their religious traditions,” she added.
“But when it comes to the document, the Commission is bound by the ruling of the European Court,” which in 2020 upheld the rights of states in Belgium to ban ritual slaughter.

‘Holocaust was a scam’ projected on Swedish synagogue during international antisemitism conference

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