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May 12, 2015 3:16 pm

European Antisemitism Driving Jews Away From Jewish Life, Says Leading Rabbi (INTERVIEW)

avatar by Eliezer Sherman

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Conference of European Rabbis President Rabbi Pinchas Goldschmidt (R) awards French Prime Minister Manuel Valls (L) with the Lord Jakobovits Prize for European Jewry in Paris. Photo: Conference of European Rabbis

The recent string of attacks against Jews in Europe has driven many Jews away from an active Jewish life, said the president of one of Europe’s leading Orthodox Jewish networks on Tuesday.

“We’re dealing with a large number of Jews who because of the risk involved, and terrorist attacks, have stopped coming to Jewish events,” Rabbi Pinchas Goldschmidt told the Algemeiner. “It’s more important [for these Jews] to stay alive than to stay Jewish.”

The 51-year-old Swiss-born Conference of European Rabbis (CER) president, who is also Chief Rabbi of Moscow, said apathy was a greater risk to the Jews in Europe because as an issue it is more elusive than both antisemitism and assimilation.

“While assimilation and antisemitism can be addressed directly, apathy is a much harder issue to address … There is a certain percentage of Jews saying I’d be better hiding,” he said. “Our message to our community is that this is not the answer.”

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On Monday, the CER awarded French Prime Minister Manuel Valls with its Lord Jakobovits Prize for European Jewry, for his “exemplary determination in the fight against antisemitism.”

Valls said he “can’t imagine a France without Jews,” Goldschmidt related.

“He’s going to make sure that Jews and community centers and synagogues or going to be protected” as long as the need exists, said the chief rabbi, adding that Valls pledged just a few days ago a “new program of 100 million euros ($112 million) to combat antisemitism on the Internet and on the streets.”

This was the third year the CER awarded the Jakobovits prize. Last year it went to German Chancellor Angela Merkel, and the year before that to Polish Prime Minister and European Parliament President Jerzy Buzek.

Meanwhile, the recent Islamist attacks against French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo in which 12 people were killed, and subsequent attacks in France including at a Kosher supermarket, showed Europeans that the problem was not uniquely Jewish, said Goldschmidt.

“It is not a problem with the Jews, it is a European problem,” he said.

In Moscow, however, Goldshmidt painted a more secure picture of Jewish life.

Because of the “stronger government … it is much safer to walk the streets of Moscow than a Western European city,” he said.

The 29th convention of the CER will take place in Toulouse, France, this week, to honor 70 years since the Nazi regime’s surrender to Allied powers.

Toulouse was also chosen “out of respect for those who were affected by the brutal attack at the Otzar HaTorah School just three years ago,” and the CER will hold a memorial service in their honor.

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  • God bless Israel,
    although I am not a Jews, I read the Bible to bless them.
    God love Jews, and the all people in this world.
    Living like a hell in muslims world make me crazy,
    I found Jesus in my heart, and He’s a Jews too.
    I never hate Israel anymore, because My Lord come from Jews.

  • Reuven

    Typo Correction: Of course that fiorst word was Jews. I very much regret my typo.

  • Reuven

    Jerws should leave Europe and cxome home to Israel before it is too late.

  • Timmy Lamse

    I’m so sad for the Jewish people who believe they have to choose between letting non-Jewish people know that they are Jewish and staying alive and safe. Being a Christian and a Bible reader, I know that being Jewish is not simply about your ethnicity. It is supposed to be your way of looking at life emotionally, living your life physically and spiritually, and expecting treatment by your government. No matter what country we are from, we should be able to expect that country to protect us from bad people, especially bigots. I pray for you and your country nearly everyday.

  • Wm. J. Levy

    Passive Jews fueled the Holocaust and they are doing it again with the same end results.

    What is wrong with Jews? They have learned nothing from the Holocaust and it could have been stopped if German Jews had killed Hitler in the 1920’s. It’s that simple and for the most intelligent people in the world not to learn that lesson is a sure sign that God would like to get rid of us.

  • Joann krohn

    European countries are not seeing how ignoring Antisemitism and boycotting Israel. Is going to affect their tourism industry. I will not go to Europe untill they make it safe for all. The terrorist are ruining tourism too! Loosing money for egnoring the problems. Is just hurting Europe and middle Eastern countries.

  • H.S.Cohen

    In America it’s corrupt Jewish leaders,Rabbi’s and politicos that turn us off.

  • MARCO SPORTICH

    I AM NOT AGREED WITH THIS RABBI IS NOT TRUE AT CONTRARY IT SEEMS ITS THE CONTRARY WAS PRODUCTS FOR ME SINCE WE HAVE ANTISEMITIC INCIDENT SPECIALLY COMING FROM MUSLIMS ISLAMICS AND FROM FAR LEFTISTS GROUPS CLOSE TO PALESTINIANS CAUSE .NOW I WANT SHOWS MY PROUDNESS TO BE JEWISH AND TO BE CLOSE TO ERETZ ISRAEL WHETHER ALL JEWISH HAVING FAMILYS AND FRIENDS THERE SET UP AND MAKING THEIR ALYAH SINCE MANY YEARS AGO §

    I WANT SAID TO THESE RABBI ..IS WRONG ALL THEY ARE SAYING ..BECAUSE IS THE CONTRARY HAPPENS ..MANY JEWISH ARE MAKING A APPROACH TO SYNAGOGUE AND ARE PRACTISING ALL JEWISH FESTS OF JUDAISM §

    FOR ME I SAID THE PROBLEMS COMING FROM EUROPA WITH SOCIALIST GOVERNEMENT LIKE IN SCANDINAVIAN ..SWEDEN …DANEMARK .. NORWAY …HOLLAND ETC ARE MAKING A POLICYS VERY ANTI ISRAELIS BECAUSE THEY HAVE ON THEIR SOIL MANY MUSLIMS IMMIGRANTS .. AND THIS GOVERNMENT PUSHING AWAY A POLICYS STRICTTLY ANTISEMITE AND ANTI ISRAELI .. WITH MANY POLICYS PRO PALESTINIANS ..AND SINCE ME I DONT VOTE ANYMORE NOR FOR FRENCH SOCIALIST PARTY AND NEITHER FOR CONSERVATIVES PARTY UMP/UDF BECAUSE ARE MAKING THE SAME POLICYS ..FORCING ISRAEL TO ADOPTED THE BLADDY RULES OF OBAMA ..2 STATES SOLUTION SO CLOSE TO DEMOCRATIC PARTY .. AND THE ANSWERS FROM ISRAEL TO ALL THESE COUNTRYS SHUD BE ..ANNEXATION OF JUDEA SAMARIA . AND GAZA SAME BECAUSE THESE LANDS ARE OURS …NEVER WAS ARABICS OR MUSLIMS .. ITS THEM MUSLIMS HAS ROBBED AND CHEAD ALL OUR LANDS 2000 YEARS AGO .. AND ISRAEL SHOULD TO BLADDY WORLD ANTI ISRAEL .. THAN POLICYS OF ERETZ ISRAEL IS LEADING FROM JERUSALEM AND NOT FROM WASHINGTON.. PARIS ..LONDON ..BERLIN ..ROMA AND BRUSSELS §§

    AM ISRAEL CHAI

    MARCO SPORTICH

  • But it’s shaking up a lot of assimilated Jews. And eventually it will wake them up also. Like it did in that first Purim.

  • Julian Clovelley

    Flip back to nineteen fifty – about the time I started in primary school

    Schools in my birth country were integrated. I played with and sat next to many Jewish children. Never thought anything of it. There were many Jewish children at my high school – great and loyal friends – and in all those years just one antisemitic incident, and I quick put a stop to that crap. Hurt my mate and you hurt me

    During my school years I worked weekends and holidays with what were actually Jewish bosses. I was well treated well paid and befriended. That was how antisemitism was made to look ridiculous – We lived together – went to school together, and generally ate the same school dinners. My child friends were Judaism’s greatest ambassadors ever

    What changed – well it wasn’t me. In London they opened a JFS – a “Jewish Free School” – I didn’t care – nobody really did – but it was the beginning of the disappearance of the Jewish pupil next to you in the school, who was patently the same human being you were yourself, and was often your best friend. Here in my city in Australia there are a few thousand Jewish children in private Jewish schools – Tens of thousands of children will never have my experience of those wonderful friends that one got by just being with them

    Not all of the problem is some mystery change in society. I can’t help maintain the idea that there is no difference between us if you keep pretending there is yourselves. Please don’t do to yourselves what I would never have done or do to you. It’s heartbreaking

    I ask myself what I would have done if I had been brought up Jewish instead of Christian – I earnestly believe it would have made no real change to my life’s main decision – to walk away from bosh – from the silly culture my parents tried to emotionally push me into

    As we grow up we have to decide what for us loyalty is – for me it was to people not to mythologies, not to cultures others had created about which I had no input.

    I think it would have been far better if we had remained better integrated, if we had assimilated better one with another and if we had all answered the question one often puts to people in difficulty the other possible way

    “So you think you’re different?” – Nope – I don’t think I’m different at all, and anyone who tells me I am is either lying or stupid.

  • Johnny Cramewr

    I`m really sorry if that’s being a fact that Jews leave a Jewish
    I am not a Jew by heritance, but I study Torah and the whole of Tanakh. I put My favourite Kippa on and do my prayers.
    Shabbat and Other holy events are very dear to me.
    I opåen my soul hoping Hashem will reach it.
    I can tell that I all other dark periods of the Year, suffer from Depression so I have medical help. But since I Started my Good Life I have a sploendid time even during the dark periods of the Year.
    Please all Jews, Do not let evil win over Your Holy Life

    Shalom

    Johnny Cramer

  • Thomasson

    You write: European Anti-Semitism driving Jews away from Jewish life. It is true that attacks against Jews in various European countries have influence on Jews whether to take part or not in Jewish life. But is it a EUROPEAN HATRED? By European I mean INDIGENOUS EUROPEAN ..The Dutch…The (real)French, The Danes, Swedes, the British etc….As much as my knowledge reach ..non of all that!!…It is not a European Jews hatred …YOU BETTER CALL IT …A SAND NIGGERS AND (AFRICAN)NIGGERS JEWS HATRED ..The modern Trojan horse imported into Europe from the desert and the jungle; bringing their blood stained dirty god Allah with them and spreading all over the continent as the Black Death Plague epidemic of 1348.

  • Rick

    This affected my own family since the late 19th C CE and I only uncovered my Jewish identity some 10 years ago – that was a long buried family secret .

  • Bullfrog Europe

    Long live Jewry in France. Every European country has a duty to protect its citizens, so that Jews can live safely, without the fear of attack. Strong European governments need to realise that the Islamisation of Europe is a threat to everyone.

  • Wulfrano Ruiz Sainz

    Judaism is dead. Jews should start reading the New Testament!

    • sidney sands

      Without the Old Testament there would be no Christianity, you owe your religion to the Jewish people and its teachings, if Judaism dies the world will also die.

  • This writers concept of being religious does not fit
    what I know about Torah.

    What I do know is that saving a life is more important that going to shul, thereby putting oneself in danger by publicly identifying as a Jew.

    It is called “PIKUAF NEFESH!

  • Howard

    We just spent time in Prague with 90 young European Jewish leaders. Their biggest complaint? No, not anti-Semitism. Rather it is the stifling treatment by Chabad rabbis and the Israel Bet Din who do not countenance their Jewish lives. Just as in Israel, by refusing to allow Jews to practice Judaism in ways other than the coercive style that these self-righteous (and often hypocritical, power hungry) rabbis demand, they are driving out Jews who will not toe their line. So much for the notion of Clal Yisrael. These folks want to reenact the methods of the Zealots of old. Instead of accepting a Jewish homelands, they prefer to create two worlds – one constituting non-working individuals who refuse to defend the State and the other Jews who are turned off by sanctimoniousness but are willing to defend the Jewish State.

  • Yoel Nitzarim

    All of the European governments’s promise will not combat the fear and indifference of a multitude of Jews across many nations in both Eastern and western Europe because this multitude rightfully perceives a spike in anti-Semitic behaviours, activities, and events against Jews in a quotidian fashion. Why should a large percentage of the Jewish populations in European countries not be profoundly affected by such patently egregious threats to their very existence? Apathy and indifference to Jewish practice would certainly be a natural, albeit unsatisfactory, reaction to one’s life being threatened due to the unconscionable behaviour of others. Israel is an alternative to living in fear; rather than forsaking one’s modus operandi as a functioning Jew, a Jew does have a refuge when anti-Semitism is very critically addressed in his or her national homeland.

  • Rosewood11

    First of all, there is always the door Prime Minister Netanyahu opened–moving to Israel. Secondly, at least at present, you are welcome in the United States. There are many people here in the U.S. who love the Jewish People–even if we don’t have the privilege to be Jewish ourselves.

    Finally, though, I would urge anyone facing this choice to cling to your Jewish identity and practice. As a Christian/Gentile, one of he greatest joys I ever had was learning our family may have Jewish heritage. It is a gift of G-d to be part of his Chosen People. Whether you choose to continue publicly with your religious ceremonies, or do so in private homes, continue them. They are essential to who you are, and they are your right.

    Perhaps it is more than time for Christians to open their homes to such worship situations. There are Christians who will readily do this. Look for them to carry a SCOFIELD BIBLE. It is blamed by many muslims and palestinians for the foundation of the State of Israel, and is at least one of the go-to texts for those who believe that the existence of the State of Israel is a fulfillment of Prophecy.

  • art frank

    These people don’t get it. It’s not just the religion, it’s also Jewish race the european gentiles hate. Taught to them for 1500 years by their church.

  • brenrod

    shouldn’t the Jews be leaving europe before it is too late, AGAIN? Dont they ever learn,never again is mwaningless if you agai ignore ALL the warning signs. It is not just the euro muslims because the euros and BDS churches stalk Israel while they allow the muslims to kill them in europe. Get out, already.

  • HaroldT

    French Jews are deluding themselves.
    Look at France’s rounding up of Jews for Nazi annihilation
    Look at France’s voting at the UN against Israel
    Look at France’s UN resolution for a “Palestinian” state that is determined to annihilate Israel.
    Judge them on deeds not on empty words.

    • sidney sands

      30.000 German troops controlled all of France, with the help and gladly given support of 120.000 French Police, And now with the help of millions of Muslims they will again show their true feelings.

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