‘Jewish Life Must Flourish in Europe’: EU Commissioner Sends Rosh Hashanah Message to Continent’s Jews
Jewish citizens of the European Union were warmly praised in a message on Friday issued by one of the bloc’s top leaders in advance of the Jewish New Year, which begins on Sunday night.
“May you celebrate Erev Rosh Hashanah surrounded by your loved ones and enjoy blessed High Holidays,” the message from the European Commission’s first vice-president, Frans Timmermans, declared. “The enduring traditions of Rosh Hashanah remind us of the deep values of Judaism and allow us to celebrate its remarkable heritage and contribution to our continent.”
That heritage included the Jewish contribution to Europe’s intellectual culture. “Europe would be different without Sigmund Freud, Albert Einstein or Simone Veil, while Judaism would be poorer without Maimonides or Rashi, Theodor Herzl or Golda Meir,” Timmermans observed.
The message continued: “The coming year will remind us of the 75th anniversary of the end of the Shoah and the liberation of the Nazi death camp Auschwitz-Birkenau which I visited earlier this year on Holocaust Memorial Day. I was fortunate to speak to hundreds of young people about the lessons we should heed, and the responsibility we all must bear. We will also commemorate 30 years since the fall of the Berlin Wall leading to the end of the Communist regimes, which is concomitantly the liberation of Jewish life beyond the ‘Iron Curtain’ and the unification of Europe.”
Timmermans acknowledged that antisemitism remained a live problem across Europe. “We know that where extremism flourishes, the poison of antisemitism is not far away,” he said. “Based on our own terrible history of the Shoah, we have a special responsibility to tackle it wherever it rears its head.”