The Conference of European Rabbis on Thursday compared a Dutch law that requires
citizens to carry their identity cards at all times to restrictions placed on
Jews by the Nazi regime in Germany.
The current controversy stems from a
decision by an appeals court in The Hague which ruled this week that there is no
religious exemption for Orthodox Jews that would allow them to refrain from
carrying their identity documents on Shabbat, when transporting objects outdoors
is prohibited under Halacha (Jewish law).
The case focused on an
unidentified Dutch Jew who was ultimately fined 60 euros for being unable to
produce his documentation when approached by police.
The loss of his
appeal means that Dutch Jews who are observant will be forced to choose between
allegiance to secular law and their religious principles.
requirement to carry documentation came into effect in the beginning of 2005 and
marked the first time since the end of German rule during World War II that such
legislation was implemented in the Netherlands.
While many Orthodox Jews
allow the use of an eruv , (wire and poles used to create an almost invisible
fence around a public space, thus earning it the designation of a private area,
where there is no prohibition of carrying) not every community boasts such a
structure and some are stringent in avoiding their use.
Goldschmidt, president of the Conference of European Rabbis, told The Jerusalem
Post on Thursday that “the current halachic question of whether or not a Jew may
carry his ID on Shabbat had to be addressed by poskim, legal scholars, in Nazi
“We encourage and support the Jewish community of the
Netherlands and hope that the religious rights of Dutch Jews will be respected
and upheld by Dutch authorities,” Goldschmidt said.
Ruben Vis, secretary
of the central committee of the Nederlands-Israelitisch Kerkgenootschap, Dutch
Jewry’s representative body, told the Post that his organization is searching
for an appropriate solution to the issue within the strictures of Jewish
“The case of the identification requirements has implications,” he
said. “Someone who adheres to the laws of the Sabbath may unintentionally end up
in a situation where the police or any other official may ask him to identify
himself. The NIK has committed itself to ensuring that a halachic solution to
this problem will be formulated.”