A survey conducted last week by the European Jewish Association (EJA) and the Rabbinical Center of Europe (RCE) shows that a huge percentage of Europe’s Jews are afraid to leave their homes and attend High Holy Day services this year.
Despite the increased security arrangements around Jewish institutions in Europe, 70 percent of Europe’s Jews do not intend to visit synagogues on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. The survey was conducted on September 12-15, 2016 among a representative sample of 700 capital cities and communities in the periphery throughout Europe, from Britain in the west to Ukraine in the east.
The findings showed that more that 50 percent of Jewish communities across the continent reported a decline in the number of active members of the Jewish community, as a direct result of an increase of anti-Semitism.
Only about 11 percent of communities across Europe reported an increase in members, and 39 percent of the communities reported that there was no change in the number of registered community members. EJA and RCE General Director, Rabbi Menachem Margolin said that 75 percent of the communities reported an increased vigilance by various governments to the dangers faced by Jews in light of the growing Anti-Semitism since last year’s High Holidays.
The vast majority of community leaders also reported having to increase security and policing measures around Jewish schools, synagogues and other affiliated institutions of the community. “The challenge for most of the Jewish communities has doubled in recent months,” noted Rabbi Margolin.
“On one hand, violence against Jews increased significantly — against individuals, institutions and communities (among other reasons by immigrants and Muslim refugees). On the other hand, as a result of the refugee crisis, there is an actual increase in the power of the far right across the continent as well. “Currently the focus of the extreme right and their activity is focused on Islam, but testimonies of rabbis and community leaders show a great deal of concern about the growing of nationalism and xenophobia (hatred of foreigners)” warns Rabbi Margolin. The rabbi also called for the European Union and governments across the continent to increase educational efforts and the fight against anti-Semitism as part of the curriculum in schools.
“Counter terrorism is of course an important measure to save lives – but not enough to solve the problem from the root. As long as there will not be an educational effort focused on the elimination of anti-Semitism, the problem will continue,” he warned.Hana Levi Julian