#NotOnMyWatch: EJA Annual Campaign for the International Holocaust Remembrance Day 2019

February 5, 2019

The response to our Holocaust Memorial Day Campaign was humbling. The message of memory and vigilance resonated across the political and civic society spectrum. We take the opportunity to share with you an album with the many messages of support for European Jewry and condolences in remembrance, and thank all of those who took part.


To see all the picture from our campaign go to : https://www.ejassociation.eu/events/notonmywatch-eja-annual-campaign-for-the-international-holocaust-remembrance-day-2019/

Additional Articles

ITALIAN POLITICIAN LISTS ‘ANTISEMITIC’ AS HIS RELIGIOUS VIEWS ON FACEBOOK

A member of the city council of an Italian town listed “antisemitic” as his religious views on Facebook, Italian media reported on Sunday.
Stefano Altinier, 35, was elected in the city council of Gorizia, North East of the Italian peninsula, in 2017. He belongs to the right-wing party League, whose leader Matteo Salvini recently triggered a political crisis, pulling the plug from League’s coalition with the anti-establishment Five Star Movement.
According to the Italian newspaper La Repubblica, Altinier deleted the entry on Friday after being alerted that someone had spotted his profile. However, screenshots of his Facebook page started to circulate online.
“The opposition is trying to discredit me in a boorish way. I have always thought that social media do not reflect reality. Some people claim to exercise a certain profession or to be married, and it happens not to be true. I have never been antisemitic, I have even attended a Hanukkah celebration once, and I’m fascinated by the history and tradition of this people,” Altinier said.
Altinier also claimed that he was “a teenager” when he compiled his Facebook profile identifying his religious views as antisemitic, “ten or fifteen years ago.”
“The word was meant as a joke,” he further said. “I apologize if I hurt someone’s sensitivity. Today there is no more trace of what I wrote.”

Letter by Rabbi margolin to the Ghent University

This letter was sent this morning to Ghent University by Rabbi Menachem margolin following complaints by local students.

Vice Presidents Jourová and Schinas speak at 4th meeting of Working Group on Antisemitism

On 8 December, Vice-President Věra Jourová and Vice-President Margaritis Schinas participated in the 4th meeting of the Working Group on combating antisemitism. Vice-President Schinas opened the meeting with remarks on stepping up the fight against antisemitism, while Vice-President Jourová will deliver closing remarks in the afternoon. The meeting was focused on the development of national strategies against antisemitism, the practical use of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of antisemitism, and fighting against antisemitic prejudices as part of civic orientation measures based on the EC Action Plan on Integration and Inclusion.
Values and Transparency Vice-President Věra Jourová said:  ‘It is more important than ever to think critically, to not believe immediately what you read and hear. Countering disinformation and promoting democracy are crucial principles to our democratic societies and to the functioning of the European Union.”
Vice President Schinas said: “In 2021 we will present with our first comprehensive EU strategy on combating antisemitism. Our message is clear: Europe is determined to win this fight. Europe is proud of its Jewish communities and stands by its Jewish communities.”
The European Commission created the ad-hoc Working Group on antisemitism within the existing high-level member states expert group on racism and xenophobia to help member states in the implementation of the Council Declaration on the fight against antisemitism and the development of a common security approach to better protect Jewish communities and institutions in Europe of 6 December 2018. More information on the Commission's work to tackle antisemitism can be found here.
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Words for Rosh HaShanah by Binyomin Jacobs, chief rabbi

The shofar has no reason.
But it contains a sign: Wake up! (Maimonides)
If you want a livable society there has to be legislation. Because without rules the theory of people living together in peace is not going to work. Ideally this would not have to be necessary, but our society is far from ideal. And so, we see that in every country, in every city and in every group in which people live together rules are made to make the society livable. Because if we wouldn’t...
But it is not as simple as that. Because laws made by people are subject to change and can lead to quite the opposite of livability. Over the years laws are adapted, changed. What is criminal and unacceptable in country A, is ridiculous and exaggerated in country B.
Some time ago we received a journalist from Moscow as a guest. We were debating during the shabbat meal and since he sounded pretty pro-Russian, I asked him how he feels about the oligarchs who because of their large financial strength more or less define the law. In my point of view rather corrupt. But it is accepted and these multimillionaires are treated with a chronic respect. I find that difficult to accept!
The journalist looked at me a bit sheepishly and instead of answering he asked a counter-question, which is a good Jewish custom. When I got off the train at the Central Station in Amsterdam, he began talking, I saw men selling drugs under the police’s condoning eyes. Drugs that can only come onto the market through exploitation and degrading trade. How can your Dutch people, was his question, accept this just like that?
The journalist was right: what is acceptable in society A, even instinctively, is corrupt in society B. And so, it is a good thing that societies make laws to create a livable climate, but there is also a risk attached to this man-made legislation. Because when man starts to determine what is right and what is wrong, we have a problem. Are extramarital relations acceptable? Years ago, that was not done, but nowadays in our so-called modern civilized society ... We stand up for women’s rights and rightly so! But we use these same women as inducement to focus attention to a certain product. And we accept the exploitation of imported women who have nowhere left to go, female slaves!
Judaism knows three kinds of laws: (1) Laws we obey to commemorate certain events. During the Feast of Tabernacles (Sukkoth) we live in a sukkah to commemorate the forty years in which our ancestors lived in sukkot after the Exodus from Egypt. (2) Laws that make sense, like the ban on stealing. This kind of legislation must exist to avoid chaos.
But Judaism has a third kind of law: Chukim (decrees). Laws that transcend rational reason. These laws are obeyed exclusively because God expects this from us.
“This is a requirement of the law that the Lord has commanded” (Numbers 19:2). And then the text continues and presents the completely incomprehensible legislation of the red heifer. With the ashes of the red heifer the unclean is cleansed and the priest performing the ceremony becomes unclean because of the action!? It doesn’t make sense.
But apart from this inconceivable legislation: why does the text say “This is the law of the Torah?” It should have said “This is the law of the red heifer!” But because this incomprehensible law is called the law of the Torah, the Torah declares that reason cannot be the basis of any law. Every law, also the law we do understand, has to be obeyed because G’d desires that of us and not because we understand it. And then such a law is independent of the trend that dominates society at that particular moment. Because it may be that we find some laws rational and comprehensible, but with regard to standards and values there is no logic.
What was completely unacceptable yesterday is one hundred per cent normal tomorrow!
The Halacha is the collective body of Jewish religious laws which is full of logic, taking into account circumstances and situations, it is absolutely not black or white, and constantly moving. But at the same time, it is plain that man is too small to determine the law himself. Standards and values are fluctuating all the time. What was totally unacceptable fifty years ago, is normal today. And what we find normal today, our grandchildren will experience as primitive and incomprehensible.
But why looking at ancestors and grandchildren? My Russian journalist cannot comprehend the policy on drugs in our country and it is beyond my comprehension that in Russia oligarchs are hoisted up into the air, while we live in the same age.
And that is precisely the message of the shofar.
A message reaching far beyond legislation.
Maimonides teaches a vital lesson for life at the beginning of the New Year:

  1. There is no logical reason why we should sound the shofar on Rosh Hashana
  2. But there is a sign hidden in the shofar: wake up, repent.

Primarily we have to realize that life is incomprehensible, we need to accept!
And when we are thoroughly aware of that, only then we start to try and understand as much as possible!
With this thought we start the New Year.
A Shanah Tovah, a good and healthy 5780
Binyomin Jacobs, chief rabbi

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