#NotOnMyWatch: EJA Annual Campaign for the International Holocaust Remembrance Day 2020

January 28, 2021

On behalf of the hundreds of communities across Europe that we represent, and for European Jewry as a whole, we at the EJA would like to express our deep gratitude to all the Presidents, Prime Ministers, European Commissioners, permanent representatives, MP’s, MEPs and members of the public who took part in our ‘not on my watch’ candle campaign for Holocaust Memorial Day. Together, your important voice showed the world our shared purpose and goal, rooting out and obliterating antisemitism wherever it lies. Thank you.

(to see all pictures click HERE)|

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Meeting at the Ministry of Education, Science, Research and Sport of the Slovak Republic. 

Yesterday, on 29 October 2019, the European Jewish Association and our partners from the Action and Protection Foundation /Hungary/ have once again travelled abroad to meet with government officials regarding the European Curriculum and Textbook Project against Antisemitism. This time, our destination has been the Slovak capital of Bratislava, situated at the very heart of Europe, in-between the Danube and Morava rivers. 

Alex Benjamin, EJA’s Director of Public Affairs, Ferenc Olti, Board Member of the Hungarian Jewish Cultural Association, and Kálmán Szalai, APF’s Secretary, have met with Maria Prekop, Director General at the Department of Minorities and Inclusive Education, and Katarína Baranyaiová, Counsellor at the Department of Bilateral and Multilateral Cooperation of the Ministry of Education, Science, Research and Sport of the Slovak Republic. 

During the meeting, we have had a chance to present the project, its earlier implementation process and the results achieved in Hungary, as well as discuss the Slovak system of education, particularly its emphasis on minority inclusion and social dialogue, and thus briefly touch upon the project’s compatibility with the rules and customs already in place.

It has been agreed that our proposal shall be further carefully examined by the Ministry, with a special attention towards its operational feasibility in case of potential adaptation within the national curriculum.

We greatly appreciate the forthcomingness of the Slovak authorities and the very productive discussion with Ms. Prekop and Ms. Baranyaiová. We thus eagerly look forward to hopeful cooperation with the Ministry, the local Jewish community and other partners on this important initiative.

European Jewish Association to challenge “Holocaust Bill” in Polish Constitutional court

European Jewish Association (EJA) Chairman Rabbi Menachem Margolin said that his organisation would begin legal proceedings in Poland’s Constitutional Court following Polish President Duda’s decision to sign the contested Holocaust Bill.  

Rabbi Margolin had previously challenged and overturned Polish legislation affecting Kosher slaughter at the Court.

In a statement Rabbi Margolin said,

“It is with deep regret that the President of Poland, clearly ignoring the concerns of European Jewry and the International Community, has decided to sign this deeply flawed bill. We had urged President Duda to defer any final decision on ratifying the legislation until at least having met with a delegation of Jewish leaders. He has decided, bizarrely, that this is not necessary.

“As a consequence, the EJA will - as we successfully did in the past on efforts to ban Kosher slaughter - challenge this matter in Poland’s Constitutional court.”

“I have also written to the heads of all the EU Institutions asking them to reprimand the Polish government.  It seems inconceivable that an EU Member State can be permitted to whitewash history by imposing draconian legislation that can imprison people for holding an alternative view on what happened during Europe’s darkest days. 

“The bill, as presently worded, represents the worst kind of historical revisionism, is an assault and an insult to the memory of those murdered during the holocaust and is a direct attack on free speech and freedom of opinion. This cannot stand.” concluded Margolin. 


To view a video interview with Rabbi Margolin on the subject please click HERE

“PER LA MEMORIA DELLA SHOAH NON SI FA ABBASTANZA”: LE PAROLE DI REGINA SUCHOWOLSKI-SLUSZNY

Poco prima dello scoppio della Seconda Guerra Mondiale, la comunità ebraica in Belgio era composta da circa 75 mila ebrei, divisi tra le città di Anversa e di Bruxelles. Circa il 45% della popolazione ebraica venne deportata e mandata principalmente ad Auschwitz, di questi, solo 1200 fecero ritorno. Un totale di 28.900 ebrei belgi furono uccisi tra il 1942 e il 1945.

Al contrario di altri paesi in Europa, il regime nazista si dovette scontrare con una forte resistenza popolare che impedì la completa applicazione delle politiche antisemite. Questo clima permise ad una complessa rete clandestina di nascondere più di 6mila bambini, dalla tenera età fino ai 15 anni, all’interno di famiglie non ebraiche sparse nel Belgio. Una di queste fu Regina Suchowolski-Sluszny, che ebbe la fortuna di riunirsi alla sua famiglia e di essere accudita da una famiglia che considera tuttora parte della sua.

Da decenni Regina, vicepresidente dell'Associazione dei bambini che furono nascosti in Belgio, nonché presidente del Forum delle organizzazioni ebraiche, si occupa di raccontare nelle scuole la sua storia e quella di suo marito George, che ebbe un’esperienza simile.

Nonostante abbia visitato centinaia di istituti e raccontato la storia a migliaia di ragazzi in tutto il Belgio, per lei raccontare ciò che le è accaduto durante la Shoah e gli orrori di quel periodo sono una missione di vita, che porterà avanti, come dice, “fino a quando il mio corpo glielo permetterà”. Regina ha parlato di fronte a politici e leader del mondo ebraico a Cracovia alla conferenza organizzata dalla European Jewish Association.

Proprio per l’occasione, Regina Suchowolski-Sluszny ha condiviso con Shalom vari temi, tra cui quello di quanta strada ci sia ancora da fare nell’educazione dei ragazzi riguardo la Shoah e nella lotta all’antisemitismo in Belgio.

“Non esiste una vera educazione in materia. Sanno che c’è stata una guerra, ma oltre a quello non sanno altro” ha tuonato la Presidente del Forum delle Organizzazioni Ebraiche parlando delle lacune del sistema educativo in Belgio.

“Qualche mese fa sono andata in una scuola ed ho chiesto alla maestra di cosa avesse parlato ai suoi studenti. – ci ha raccontato Regina –  Lei mi ha risposto che avevano parlato di quell’argomento per un pomeriggio.”

Il problema, secondo Suchowolski-Sluszny, proviene proprio dalla classe docente. “Nonostante sia obbligatorio parlare della Shoah nelle classi, gli insegnanti non sanno cosa sia la Shoah. – ha fatto notare –  Per questo parlare di Hitler e far vedere Schindler’s List ai propri alunni non potrà mai essere abbastanza.”

Dei tanti incontri fatti durante questi anni, due episodi hanno particolarmente colpito la sopravvissuta: il primo ha per protagonista una ragazza, che dopo aver sentito la testimonianza ha capito il vero valore delle cose; mentre il secondo riguarda un ragazzo le cui idee sugli ebrei e su Israele erano state fortemente influenzate dal padre, completamente cambiate dopo aver discusso con lei.

In entrambi i casi la testimonianza ha creato in loro un cortocircuito, “ciò che faccio è fargli porre determinate domande, poi capire ciò che è giusto o sbagliato è un processo che i ragazzi devono fare da soli.”

Mentre per quanto riguarda dell’antisemitismo, in linea con quanto detto dal Rabbino Menachem Margolin nel suo discorso di apertura alla conferenza di Cracovia, in Europa non si sta facendo abbastanza per contrastare il fenomeno.

Molto di quanto detto dai vari governi dei paesi membri dell’Unione Europea e dallo stesso governo belga, secondo lei sono “parole al vento”. Lo stesso fenomeno viene preso sottogamba dalle forze dell’ordine del suo paese, che il più delle volte ignorano le segnalazioni della comunità ebraica, al contrario di quanto avviene per esempio in Italia, lodando il lavoro svolto dal prefetto Lamberto Giannini, vincitore del King David Award dell’EJA.

Un’altra scottante problematica riguarda il BDS, aggiunge Regina Suchowolski-Sluszny, e l’esempio lampante è ciò che sta accadendo nelle università europee. “Succede ad Anversa, a Bruxelles, ovunque. BDS è libero di agire e nessuno fa qualcosa per fermarlo. – sostiene – Chi firma le loro campagne sono soprattutto gli accademici.” Un problema che bisogna risolvere il prima possibile se si vuole dare ai ragazzi una vita universitaria più tranquilla, secondo la Presidente del Forum delle organizzazioni ebraiche.

https://www.shalom.it/blog/orizzonte-europa-bc251/a-per-la-memoria-della-shoah-non-si-fa-abbastanzaa-le-parole-di-regina-suchowolski-sluszny-b1105101

Coronavirus heavily impacts French Jewish community, ZAKA buries victims

Rabbi Menachem Mendel Peretz, head of ZAKA France, alerted the Jewish community, saying that "we are counting bodies, and you are still debating the quarantine measures."

As of Wednesday night, France reported that 11,539 people were hospitalized after testing positive for coronavirus and 1,331 people  died from the virus, including some Jewish people.On social media, including many Facebook groups, a list of French Jews infected with the coronavirus was published and is being updated almost daily, people urging the community to pray and read tehillim for them.

In a recent statement, ZAKA claimed that many victims from the coronavirus in France are Jewish and that the organization's volunteers are burring Jewish victims every day. Rabbi Menachem Mendel Peretz, head of ZAKA France, alerted the Jewish community, saying that "we are counting bodies, and you are still debating the quarantine measures."

"We are in difficult times, we have a very hard job as we take care every day of the Jews who died as a result of the virus," he added. "It is very difficult to describe the situation with what we face here every day."
Rabbi Peretz said that important Rabbis from the community are among the victims."Last Saturday, Rabbi Touboul, head of the Beit Hanna and Chaya Mushka schools in Paris, some of the largest Chabad schools for girls in Europe, died suddenly," he said.
"We worked to fulfill Rabbi Touboul's will to be buried in Israel. We were able to reach an agreement with the Israeli Ministry of Health, we received very strict instructions on how to treat the deceased according to Jewish law and the Health Ministry guidelines in order to bury him in Israel."

Rabbi Touboul was buried on Tuesday at the Mount of Olives Cemetery in Jerusalem.
ZAKA's French head also added that tonight, a French aircraft will land at Ben Gurion Airport, carrying three coffins with the bodies of Jews who died in France from the coronavirus to be buried in Israel.
Among them will be Rabbi Hamou, a major rabbi and community leader of the Mekor Chaim community in Paris, who fought for his life for about a week in the hospital.
In the statement ZAKA begs the Jewish community in France, in Israel, and around the world, to stay home.
"Please, for your own benefit and for your families, apply the Ministry of Health guidelines to stay home, to stay alive,"  ZAKA said.
Actualité Juive, a major Jewish newspaper in France, asked in a recent report if the Jewish community is over-represented among those infected with the coronavirus in the country.
"There was, without any doubt, a certain skepticism in the community," recognized the Chief Rabbi of France Haïm Korsia. "At first, people may have thought that the risk could not exist in their immediate family," he added.
But today, the Jewish community has realized the emergency of the situation and the importance of staying at home, according to Actualité Juive.

The article was published on the JPost

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