With war in Gaza and Europe-wide Antisemitism peak, Jews bring president Von der Leyen and other friends in Brussels to ‘shine together’ on Channukah

December 7, 2023

“Defiant and hopeful, just as we have always been,” says organisers of EU event after traumatic few months. Chanukah is first significant Jewish holiday since events on October 7th.

(Brussels 7 December 2023) European Commission President Ursula Von Der Leyen and other European Dignitaries will be at EuroChannukah 2023, taking place between the European Council and Commission buildings at Schuman in Brussels, Belgium on Sunday evening. The Commission President will light a giant Menorah marking the Jewish Holiday of Chanukah – the festival of light.

The theme of EuroChannukah this year, which takes place in the heart of the European Quarter, is ‘Shining Together’.

Chanukkah this year takes place against the backdrop of huge spikes in antisemitism and is the first major Jewish holiday following the Hamas Massacre in Israel and subsequent war in Gaza. The organisers, the European Jewish Community Center , say that it is a showcase for unity and resilience in difficult times.

Avi Tawil, Director of the European Jewish Community Centre, speaking ahead of the event said,

“We were concerned that this year, we would hear from communities across Europe that they were scaling down Chanukah celebrations, hiding away, keeping their heads down. In fact, the opposite is true, now more than ever, the desire is to come out and celebrate the holiday. To Shine together.

“Chanukah, at its core, is a holiday about light overcoming darkness, that good can and will always prevail. Our friends, like Commission President Vpn Der Leyen, are standing with us in solidarity, in a common bond, and in this spirit of unity and resilience.

“It’s been an awful few months. But Jews are defiant in the face of darkness, and always hopeful in the light, just as we have always been, and especially during Chanukkah.”

Ends.

Additional Articles

ATTACKS AGAINST JEWS HAS STARTED – “WAKE UP, NEVER AGAIN IS NOW! - EUROPEAN JEWISH LEADER TELLS EUROPEAN GOVERNMENTS.

“This is not about Palestine and Israel, this is not about politics, these are attacks against Jews everywhere in Europe” states Rabbi Menachem Margolin.

(Brussels 19 October 2023) Synagogues attacked in Spain, Germany, incitement all over Europe, reported antisemitism rises over 1200%. The European Jewish Association, one of Europe’s largest Jewish associations representing hundreds of communities across the continent, delivered a stark assessment this morning: Attacks against Europe’s Jews has started

EJA Chairman Rabbi Menachem Margolin sounded the alarm and demanded that European governments wake up and protect all Jewish Communities across Europe. Never again (the phrase used on international holocaust memorial day) is now, he emphasised.

In a statement today, the EJA Chairman said,

“Our communities and synagogues like Melilla in Spain, and in Germany are being attacked, antisemitism hate has multiplied over 1000% times from already alarming levels, we are being insulted, assaulted verbally and in many cases physically in the street.

“I am of course writing to governments in Spain and in Germany. But Jews shouldn’t have to ask for help! My message to European governments is stark: WAKE UP!!! Never again is now!!

“Anybody who thinks this is about Israel and Palestine, or politics is living under a stone. This is merely a pretext for starting attacks on every Jew in Europe.”

“Governments across Europe mut immediately step up, protect JewIsh communities across the continent now. Right now.”

National Jewish Assembly (NJA)

https://nja.org.uk/

EU Jewish leader calls on european governments to immediately grant citizenship to remaining hostages after hamas set to release 50 dual-nationals

Rabbi Menachem Margolin, EJA Chairman: “Don’t Force Jews to once again go through a selection.”

(Brussels 23 October 2023) Responding to news that Hamas will release 50 hostages of dual nationality, European Jewish Association Chairman Rabbi Menachem Margolin, who heads the organisation that represents hundreds of communities across the continent, called on European governents to immediately grant citizenship to the remaining hostages, urging them not to put Jews through another selection process.

In a statement today, the EJA Chairman said

“If Hamas are now releasing hostages with dual nationalities the answer is clear. Every European government should immediately grant citizenship to the remaining hostages.

 “I urge European governments most sincerely, please don’t force Jews to once again go through a selection.”

A tough week…reflections always worth reading from Chief Rabbi Binyomin Jacobs.

While the world at large is rightly concerned about Russia-Ukraine, a years-long effort to save Levi has failed. Levi has been imprisoned in appalling conditions in a primitive country since 2016 just because he is Jewish. After years of attempts to free him with the mediation efforts of another country, that route has failed. I was a small link in that liberation campaign, one without success I was told on Friday from the US.
A feeling of helplessness takes over me. Powerlessness and incomprehension too about Ukraine and Russia. The rabbis in Ukraine are in a very difficult situation. Some have fled and are now without a source of income, mostly in Israel, neck-deep in worries. Others have stayed, and don’t really know what to do, completely at a loss as to which way it will go.
I spoke to the chief rabbi of Dnieper on the phone. He can’t leave, he told me, because the older members of the congregation can’t leave either. There isn’t a single hair on his head that contemplates leaving his community, of abandoning his (sinking?) ship, as long as the majority of his crew members and passengers cannot or do not want to take that escape route.
More and more I think about my parents and their generation and the decisions they had to make to survive. My parents made the right decisions and that is why I exist and the second generation exists. But the great majority of then made the wrong decision and literally and figuratively had no way out. At the time, many thought that everything would not go so smoothly and that the Netherlands, like in World War I, would be able to escape the macabre dance again
And since I already started this new week from a low point, I can add something to it. Some of the Ukrainian rabbis or teachers have fled and are now elsewhere in Europe. They thought they could dedicate themselves to the Jewish Ukrainians who also fled to become their rabbi again, as it were, but outside of Ukraine. But it’s not all that simple. The interest in maintaining Jewish contacts is very low for the vast majority of people. For most, Judaism was a ticket to get away and seek shelter. But now that they’re gone and the first shelter is over…
Whether it is war or not, man remains human in times of war and also in his selfish behaviour. Some of the rabbis I know from Ukraine really couldn’t go back and are now in Israel, caring for their Ukrainians in the Holy Land. And I can again be a small link to financially support those rabbis and therefore be a part of their commitment, as it were. The rabbis who really can’t go back because their congregations have been totally destroyed are also supported. The stragglers too. But that in-between group? To return or not to return? And what about wife and children? That intermediate group is having a hard time, because they are either viewed as heroes or/and as traitors.
By the way, amidst the gloom, I also received a nice message. A Jewish-Dutch family that has been trying to settle in Israel for more than a year has finally managed to go through the long bureaucratic road of forms and signatures and can now finally make Aliyah. And another positive message is my appointment as a jury member. You see: no complaints about rabbinical variety. You may remember the discussion about the German war cemetery in Ysselsteyn. The result, after many discussions and meetings, was that a
monument was erected in memory of the 102,000 Jews, Roma and others who were not allowed a grave, unlike the murderers. Six artists can give a presentation of ‘their’ artwork and I will be one of the jury members. And so, I will be in Ysselsteyn on November 22. You will read about it here first!

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