Three dead as woman beheaded in attack in French church

October 29, 2020

The EJA extends its solidarity, support and prayers to the people of Nice and France as a whole as they face a barrage of barbarity, an attack on French values of tolerance and pluralism. We stand shoulder to shoulder with you in the face of adversity.
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Red Lines Follow-Up: Meeting with German Ambassador H.E. Mr. Martin Kotthaus

Earlier today, the European Jewish Association has had the honour of meeting with the recently appointed Ambassador of the Federal Republic of Germany to the Kingdom of Belgium, H.E. Mr. Martin Kotthaus. While His Excellency has earlier already attended some of our events, including the recent EJA annual conference back in November 2018, this has been the first occasion, which presented an opportunity to have a very comprehensive discussion on a number of different topics.

These subjects, amongst others, included the issues European Jewry is faced with nowadays across the continent, the situation in Germany itself, especially with regards to the present political climate and the upcoming elections at regional and EU levels, various topical matters at hand and everyday life of the Jewish community, as well as prospects for the future. Both sides have expressed their hopes for a continued productive cooperation between the German authorities and the country's Jewish community. The recently adopted Red Lines have been touched upon as well, with Mr. Ambassador kindly offering to report back on them to his homeland's government.

We very much look forward to a long and fruitful cooperation with His Excellency and the Embassy on questions presenting mutual interest and concern.

EJA Open Letter Calling on Polish Government to Scrap Kosher Ban Plans

EJA INITIATED OPEN LETTER FROM DOZENS OF PARLIAMENTARIANS ACROSS EUROPE AND JEWISH LEADERS CALLING ON POLISH GOVERNMENT TO SCRAP KOSHER MEAT BAN PLANS
Dozens of parliamentarians from across Europe and Israel, including Senators, MPs, MKs, MEPs and the UK House of Lords, and Jewish community leaders from all over Europe have joined forces in a letter calling on the Polish Government to scrap part of an animal welfare Bill to be voted on in the Polish Senate on Tuesday 13 October.
The Bill, if passed as currently written, would see a ban on the export of Kosher meat from Poland, a move that would severely impact Jewish communities across the continent who, either by size or limited resources, rely heavily on Poland as a supplier of kosher meat.
The Bill - to the clear concern of the many parliamentarians and Jewish leader signatories – also sets a dangerous precedent: it puts, animal welfare rights clearly ahead of the fundamental European right of freedom of religion.
The signatories also raised the fact that there is no conclusive scientific evidence to support claims that kosher slaughter is any more cruel than the majority of slaughter taking place day-in, day out in Europe.
In their letter to the Polish President H.E. Mr. Andrzej Sebastian Duda , H.E. Madam Elżbieta Barbara Witek, Marshal of the Sejm of the Republic of Poland and H.E. Mr. Tomasz Paweł Grodzki, Marshal of the Senate of the Republic of Poland, the signatories wrote:
“By prohibiting an export of products that represents a central tenet of Jewish faith and practice for many, you are sending a strong message that laws that effectively hinder Jewish life in Europe are acceptable.
“it is for these reasons - and on behalf of the many thousands of Jews that we as Community Leaders and Parliamentarians represent - that we urge the Polish government, its Parliament and its Senators to stop this aspect of the Bill.”
Our Chairman, Rabbi Menachem Margolin speaking ahead of the vote said,
“What appears to be a national polish political issue is nothing of the sort. The ramifications of this Bill are potentially devastating and profound to Jews eveywhere in Europe, and also to the many who value the liberty to practice freedom of religion.
“The Bill, if passed, will be seen as a declaration that it is open season to anyone who objects to aspects of Jewish law, faith and practice. It must be stopped.
“We are extremely humbled and touched that so many dsitinguished politicians, from the French Senate to the Greek Parliament and everwyhere in between, and so many Jewish community leaders agree and are backing the call for this aspect of the law to be scrapped.”
You can find a copy of the open letters and view its updated list of signatories below

COVID Diary- Reflections from Our Advisory Board Member Rabbi Binyomin Jacobs

Every Day during the Corona crisis our Advisory Board Member Chief Rabbi Binyomin Jacobs (NL) writes a diary, on request of the Jewish Cultural Quarter in Amsterdam, which is published on the website of the NIW, the only Jewish Dutch Magazine. Rabbi Jacobs is the head of Inter Governmental Relationships at the Rabbinical Centre of Europe. We will be regularly publishing a selection of his informative, sometimes light hearted, but always wise pieces.

For our Dutch readers you can follow the diary every day at NIW home page: https://niw.nl

9½ = 4

A few days ago, I received a phone call from Israel from M who claimed he was many years ago in school with one of my children. He was not the brightest of the class, but he always received high marks for Jewish subjects due to his diligence and good behavior. He called me to wish me many more years because of Sjawoe'ot and proudly informed me that he has recently obtained his education diploma and now supervises children with learning disabilities. I remember being shocked at the time that one of the mothers told me that M's 9½ should actually have been a 4 and not comparable to her son's 8.
There is no doubt that Torah study is of mayor importance. After all, we Jews are the People of the Book, of “learning”, daily and through the ages. And yet Judaism is not about the acquired knowledge. Judaism is not science, and “learning” is not studying. A high level of knowledge is not a proof of a high level of commitment.
When traveling on a train journey we know beforehand what station we want to step out.  And when we leave the train, it’s visible to everybody what the destination was.
That too is the way a good book works. In the title of the book, the beginning, in fact, the entire content is included.  And at the very end, in the last sentence or in the last word, the conclusion becomes clear and visible.
The Torah starts with the history of Creation. And our great explainer Rasjie asks an obvious question: Why does the Torah starts with the story of Creation? The Five Books of Moses are primarily intended for the Jewish People and we can only speak of the Jewish People after the Exodus from Egypt when the Torah was received on Mount Sinai. Wouldn't it have made more sense if the Torah had started with this episode and not with the creation of the world?  And Rasjie answers his own question as follows: before we start studying the Torah, we must realize and accept that there is a Creator!
The last sentence of the whole Thora tells us how Moshe broke the stone Tablets of the Ten Commandments and G'd is grateful to him for that deed! Isn’t that strange! Is this the most suitable sentence to finish the Thora?  And what was the course of Moshe breaking the Tablets which were literally a gift from Heaven? When Moshe saw that the Jews, his people, had forgotten G'd and worshiped the Golden Calf, shouldn’t he better have put aside the Tablets, go to his people and addressed them admonishing and then took back the Tablets. Why smash them? And why was G'd so pleased with Moshe's destructive act?
And again, the same answer as to the question about the story of Creation: if the Jews no longer wanted to follow Hashem our G’d Who brought them out of Egypt and instead focused on idolatry, the Torah became totally worthless and the Tablets had nothing left to offer.
The Torah is not a goal, but a means. The means to serve G’d and survive as a Jewish nation. And that's why the Torah starts and ends with that thought.
If we are aware that the Torah is the means, then we can start “learning”. And it is not about the
9½ or the 4, not about a high or a low IQ. It is about commitment, real piety and sincerity. Torah is a means, and those who see Torah as the goal they better go to study something else.
Many good, prosperous and healthy years   
גוט יום טוב
Binyomin Jacobs, chief rabbi
Sjawoe’ot 5781

German antisemitism Czar comments about public kippah wearing are a “surrender to hate” say EU Jewish Heads

“Is this the solution? Will the next advice be for me to cut off my beard? Or change my name?” asks Chief Rabbi Jacobs.
EU Jewish Association (EJA) Chairman Rabbi Menachem Margolin and Head of Governmental relations for the Rabbinical Centre of Europe Chief Rabbi Binyomin Jacobs (Netherlands) today expressed their disappointment and alarm at comments made by Germany’s respected antisemitism co-ordinatior, Dr Felix Klein, where he said that he wouldn’t advise Jews to wear Kippot (skullcaps) in some parts of the country.

The heads, representing hundreds of communities across Europe, said the comments, however well-intended towards the safety of Jews in Germany amounted to a policy of a surrender towards hate.
In a statement EJA head Rabbi Margolin said,
“It is with disappointment and alarm that I read the comments of Dr. Felix Klein. It is clear that through his work he has put the safety and welfare of the Jewish Community in Germany first, but his latest comments are a surrender to hate.
Jews cannot surrender to those who despise us. We do not alter who we are to placate the basest instincts of humanity. Dr Klein’s solution appears to be hide everything that is Jewish and then there is no antisemitism. This is a dangerous position to adopt and the EJA repudiates it in the strongest possible terms.”
Chief Rabbi Jacobs added:
“Dr Klein rightly points out the problem of antisemitism in Germany, but his well meant advice is not, to my humble opinion, the solution at all. What is next? Should I shave off my beard? Change my name? This is the road where his comments lead to. My own parents had to hide during the Nazi period. I simply refuse to hide today, nor should anyone, least of all the man tasked with fighting antisemitism in Germany, be asking us to do just that.”
Read more in dutch HERE
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