The European Jewish Association and the Rabbinical Centre of Europe are delighted to announce a brand new project that we are rolling out across Europe

November 7, 2019

The European Jewish Association and the Rabbinical Centre of Europe are delighted to announce a brand new project that we are rolling out across Europe, directly helping the sick and needy with the often expensive costs associated with securing much needed medical equipment.
Our brand new medical equipment lending centre means that the sick and immobile needn’t worry about buying wheelchairs, or expensive crutches walkers and the like.
We will provide them to communities on a need-by-need basis at no cost. When recuperation is over, the items simply get returned to the local community lending branch centre and passed to the next person that needs them.
This simple, effective project overseen by us but run at branch level by communities is open to everyone, but supplies are limited.
For more information on setting up a branch, or to apply for help. Please contact us at Rkaplan@rce.eu.com

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

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)|

New Jewish European campaign seeks to house Jewish refugees from Ukraine

As the war in Ukraine enters a second week, Europe is witnessing a huge influx of refugees fleeing Ukraine toward the West, including many Ukrainian Jews in this surge to safety.The Brussels-based European Jewish Association (EJA), representing hundreds of communities across the continent, has launched a Europe-wide campaign to temporarily provide homes, food and clothing to hundreds of Jewish families whose lives have been torn apart and upended by the conflict in Ukraine.

The appeal has gone out to Jewish communities from Lisbon to Lublin, Bucharest to Bordeaux, and everywhere in between.

“The history of the Jewish people is one of displacement, either because of pogrom or war,” said Rabbi Menachem Margolin, EJA chairman. “We are only too aware of what it means to be forced to up and leave at a moment’s notice. In almost every one of our communities you will hear such stories. We, the Jewish people, are especially attuned to these catastrophes. And because we are so attuned, we are pre-programmed to help our Jewish neighbors, just as we always have.

“I have faith that this campaign will deliver. Since the war started, Jews from all over Europe have been getting in touch with us to see what can be done to help their Ukrainian Jewish brothers and sisters in need. We are providing them with the vehicle to do just that, by offering shelter, food and clothing to those who left in a hurry, often with nothing but the clothes on their backs.”

Another European Jewish organization very active on the ground is the Conference of European Rabbis, which announced this week that Israeli technology investor Yuri Milner has donated $3 million to the CER to help Jewish refugees from Ukraine.

“As we witness the terrible human suffering in Ukraine, the Conference of European Rabbis would like to announce a special donation of $3m. from the foundation established by Yuri and Julia Milner,” said the conference. “Yuri is an Israeli technology investor and science philanthropist.”

“The CER is grateful to Yuri and Julia Milner for their long-standing support and for this latest commitment to the Jewish community at this perilous time,” said CER President Chief Rabbi Pinchas Goldschmidt.

Greece Golden Dawn: Neo-Nazi leaders guilty of running crime gang

After a trial lasting more than five years, the leadership of Greece’s neo-Nazi party has been convicted of running a criminal organisation.
Big crowds gathered outside the court in Athens as the judges gave verdicts on 68 defendants.
Golden Dawn secured 18 MPs in 2012, as Greeks were battered by a financial crisis.
The criminal inquiry into the party began with the murder of an anti-fascist musician in 2013.
Leader Nikos Michaloliakos and six colleagues were convicted of heading a criminal group. Supporter Giorgos Roupakias was found guilty of murdering an anti-racist musician and 15 others were convicted of conspiracy in the case.
Some 2,000 police were deployed around Athens Appeals Court as thousands of protesters demanded long jail terms, carrying banners that read “fear will not win” and “Nazis in prison”, Greek media reported.
Tear gas was fired into the crowd as some of the protesters clashed with police and threw petrol bombs.
People gather outside the Athens courthouse, as they wait for the verdict of the trial of the ultra-right party Golden Dawn (Chrysi Avgi), in Athens
Eleven of the defendants were in the court when the verdict was read out, along with 50 attorneys and 50 journalists.
Greek President Katerina Sakellaropoulou said the verdict was an important day for democracy and proof that Greek institutions were able to “fend off any attempt to undermine them”.
Hundreds of witnesses gave evidence in the trial, which was delayed this year by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Who was on trial?
At the centre of the trial are Golden Dawn leader Nikos Michaloliakos and 18 ex-MPs who were elected in 2012 when the neo-Nazi party came third in national elections on an anti-immigrant, nationalist platform. Golden Dawn no longer has any MPs in parliament.
After they won almost 7% of the vote in May 2012, emboldened supporters attacked political opponents and migrants.
Golden Dawn supporter Giorgos Roupakias had already confessed to the murder of rapper Pavlos Fyssas. The musician was chased down by thugs and stabbed in Piraeus in September 2013.
As the verdict was delivered, Fyssas’s mother Magda cried out, “My Pavlos defeated them alone!”.
What were the verdicts?
The key verdict on Wednesday was that Golden Dawn – Chrysi Avgi in Greek – was a criminal group. Its leadership was found guilty of running it.
They included Michaloliakos and six former MPs – Ilias Kasidiaris, Ioannis Lagos, Christos Pappas, Artemis Matthaiopoulos, Ilias Panagiotaros and Giorgos Germenis. The other ex-MPs were found guilty of joining a criminal organisation.
Magda Fyssa, mother of anti-fascist rapper Pavlos Fyssas, who was murdered in 2013 by a member of Golden Dawn, reacts at the announcement of the ultra-right party Golden Dawn’s (Chrysi Avgi) verdict.
The three judges, led by Maria Lepeniotou, were due to deliver sentencing later.
As well as the fatal stabbing of Pavlos Fyssas, defendants in the trial were also convicted of other violent attacks on migrants and left-wing political opponents.
Photo dated on June 24, 2012 of Pavlos Fyssas. The 34-year-old was fatally stabbed in the working-class Athens district of Keratsini early on September 18, 2013
Five Golden Dawn members were convicted of the attempted murders of Egyptian fishermen and four of the attempted murder of communist activists in the PAME union.
As the Golden Dawn leaders were convicted, very few inside the room applauded but outside thousands began to celebrate.
I felt very satisfied, of course. Because I knew the facts revealed during those five and a half years, and I was always optimistic.
From 2010, Golden Dawn had managed to poison the Greek political system and democratic institutions, securing contacts with the army, the police, the judiciary and the Church.
It is an excellent verdict.
Short presentational grey line
Who is their leader?
Nikos Michaloliakos founded the movement in the mid-1980s and was admirer of Nazism and a Holocaust denier, giving the Hitler salute at party rallies.
But he had always denied any knowledge of the Pavlos Fyssas murder. When police raided his home in 2013, they found weapons and ammunition.
Golden Dawn officially denied being a neo-Nazi movement, but its badge closely resembled a swastika, some senior members praised Adolf Hitler, and the clothing of choice at anti-immigrant protests was black T-shirts and combat trousers.
Witnesses told the trial that members were trained to handle weapons and used Nazi symbols.
Greece’s Golden Dawn: ‘Don’t say a word or I’ll burn you alive’
Jail fails to deter Greek far right
Greek bailout crisis in 300 words
Last December, chief prosecutor Adamantia Economou prompted uproar, with a call for the party officials to be cleared, arguing there was no evidence they had any part in planning or carrying out the series of attacks.
How has Greece reacted
There has been disgust at Golden Dawn across the political spectrum in Greece.
Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said he would not normally comment on court decisions but said the Greek republic had first expelled Golden Dawn from parliament and now Greece’s independent judiciary had acted too. “Democracy won today. It is up to us that it wins every day,” he said.
The verdict was praised as “just” and “historic” by Prokopis Pavlopoulos, who was president of Greece until earlier this year.
Centre-left political leader Fofi Gennimata said the decision sent a strong message to Europe that “fascism has no place in our lives”.
Nils Muiznieks of Amnesty International also said the trial sent a clear message: that “violent and racist criminal activity – whether perpetrated by individuals on the street or members of parliament – will not go unpunished”.
Meanwhile, the Jewish cemetery in Athens was daubed this week with anti-Semitic graffiti and Nazi slogans, prompting condemnation from Greek ministers and the Jewish community.
Read More

Israel skips Poland antisemitism meet, but some still see thaw in ties ahead

KRAKOW, Poland — A Polish opposition politician expressed regret at the passage of a law this summer that limited Holocaust restitution efforts, and said he hopes ties between Poland and Israel — put in deep freeze by the legislation — will be repaired soon.
“I personally, from the very beginning, was opposed to both legislations that made so much damage to Polish-Israeli relations,” Michał Kaminski, a Polish senator and a deputy marshal of the Senate with the opposition Union of European Democrats, told The Times of Israel during an interview earlier this week. “Those legislations I opposed in both chambers, they are very unfortunate.”
Kaminski was referring to not just the legislation from July regarding Holocaust restitution, but also a 2018 law that criminalized statements implying the Polish nation played a role in victimizing Jews in the Holocaust. The law was later amended to remove the possibility of criminal charges, but the legislation caused major diplomatic tension between Warsaw and both Israel and the United States.
Three years later, a law that effectively prevents future restitution to the heirs of property seized by the Nazis during the Holocaust led to a downturn in ties between Israel and Poland that has remained in effect since the summer. Each nation recalled its ambassadors, and Foreign Minister Yair Lapid called the law “antisemitic and immoral.”
Poland “turned into an anti-democratic, illiberal country that doesn’t respect the greatest tragedy in human history,” Lapid charged. Poland responded by accusing Israel of “baseless and irresponsible” behavior.

Kaminski — a former minister and former member of the European Parliament — suggested that ties between Israel and Poland would not be irreparably harmed, and claimed that support for Israel was a bipartisan issue in Warsaw.
“In terms of supporting Israel on the international stage, Polish opposition is absolutely on the same side as the Polish government,” he said. “We are supporting Israel as a state, we are supporting Israel’s fight against terrorism, and we are supporting Israel as a stable democracy in the Middle East.”

Foreign Minister Yair Lapid (left) speaks at a ceremony in Rabat, on August 11, 2021. Poland’s President Andrzej Duda (right) arrives for a NATO summit in Brussels on June 14, 2021. (Shlomi Amsalem/GPO; Kenzo Tribouillard/Pool via AP)

Kaminski noted that Poland was still among the strongest supporters of Israel within the European Union, and suggested that the rift was motivated by domestic political needs on both sides, which he called “very unfortunate.”

Three months after the freeze in ties between Jerusalem and Warsaw, there were few signs of thaw at the confab in Poland, yet cautious optimism that it was on the horizon.
A spokesman for Israel’s Foreign Ministry told The Times of Israel that any improvement in ties “is basically up to Poland,” adding: “The crisis is because of the law. In order to fix the problem, they should address it.”
While politicians, ministers and parliamentarians from a wide range of countries attended the conference, including the UK, Germany, France, Hungary, Slovenia, the Netherlands and even the Congo, not a single representative of Israel’s government or parliament was present. The only Israeli on the conference agenda was Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau, the former chief rabbi and current chairman of Yad Vashem.
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett sent a video message that was played at the conference’s gala dinner, where he stressed that “Jews should not be fighting antisemitism alone,” and declared that anti-Zionism is the “modern manifestation” of antisemitism.
A representative for Poland’s government — Wojciech Kolarski, secretary of state in the chancellery of the president — was originally slated to attend the conference but canceled for unspecified reasons. His office did not respond to a request for comment.
Instead, an adviser to President Andrzej Duda read a letter from the president at the conference, which emphasized the need to remember “all Poles” alongside Jewish victims of the Holocaust, and stressed that “contemporary Poland is a safe and friendly country” to Jews.
EJA officials said they invited Israeli Culture Minister Chili Tropper to attend, but he declined. Tropper’s office said he was unable to attend due to scheduling conflicts.
Conference organizers suggested that Israeli government representatives were unwilling to commit to attending the conference due to the uncertainty over the timing of critical budget votes, which wrapped up late last week.
Alex Benjamin, the director of the EJA, told The Times of Israel that the crisis in ties between Israel and Poland likely “would have been [part of the] equation” for Israeli officials choosing not to attend.
But, he said, “there are some things that transcend political disagreements,” and asserted that for Israel, “such consideration and such diplomatic rows fade into insignificance when it comes to honoring the dead in Auschwitz. There are some things that transcend political disagreements,” he added. “And visits to Auschwitz and talking about antisemitism is one of those.”
Kaminski spoke to The Times of Israel immediately after he addressed a gala dinner at the EJA gathering in Krakow on Monday. Feted as a close friend of Israel and of Europe’s Jewish community, Kaminski’s public remarks echoed Bennett’s equation of antisemitism and anti-Zionism: “Fighting antisemitism and standing with Israel and with its people — we are fighting the same fight.”
The Polish senator told The Times of Israel that while he understands Jewish and Israeli outrage over the restitution legislation, he does not believe it was aimed specifically at cases of Holocaust survivors and victims.
“The legislation about the property rights is directed in 85-90% of the cases, not against Jews, it’s directed against the Polish citizens,” he said. “I understand the anger of Jewish people, of Israeli politicians, on one side, I voted against the law. But to be honest, this law is not directed against the Jews as such.”

Artur Hofman, the head of the Polish Jewish cultural organization TSKZ, lays a wreath at Auschwitz on November 9, 2021. (Yossi Zeliger/EJA)

Warsaw says the law will bolster legal certainty in the property market, but opponents say that it is unjust to those with legitimate claims, including Holocaust survivors and their families.
The legislation places a 10-to-30-year cutoff date on contesting past administrative decisions on restituting property lost during World War II. Critics of the law argue that it will effectively cut off the ability of Jews to reclaim property that was seized before and during the Holocaust.
Poland is the only country in the European Union that has not passed comprehensive national legislation to return, or provide compensation for, private property confiscated by the Nazis or nationalized by the communist regime.
Artur Hofman, president of the cultural group TSKZ, the largest Polish Jewish organization, told The Times of Israel that while the law is problematic, the outrage ignores more local issues.
“I know that everybody in the world, in Israel, in the USA, is asking about money from property in Poland,” Hofman said. “But Polish Jews are like toys in this game. Nobody asks us.”
Hofman said that cultural buildings that once belonged to the Jewish community in Warsaw were seized by the government and never returned.
He claimed that restitution funds sought by organizations in the US and Israel are rarely distributed to Holocaust survivors, and that the money should instead remain in the Polish Jewish community and go toward remembrance and education projects.
https://www.timesofisrael.com/israel-skips-poland-antisemitism-meet-but-some-still-see-thaw-in-ties-ahead/

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