Jewish men at a synagogue in Donetsk, eastern Ukraine. .
(photo credit: REUTERS)
DNIPROPETROVSK, Ukraine – About forty percent of European Jews hide their identity, the Rabbinical Center of Europe and the European Jewish Association claimed on Monday.
The organizations, both of which are run by Menachem Margolin, a Chabad rabbi from Brussels, stated that they had gathered their data from over 800 rabbis and RCE members across the continent but did not provide any detailed explanation of how they arrived at the 40% figure or of the study’s methodology.
According to Margolin, half-amillion Jews will attend prayer services on Rosh Hashana this year at 1,353 synagogues in Europe.
“Half-a-million Jews will participate in prayers, but 1.5 million Jews hide their Jewishness,” a press release by the RCE and EJA stated, adding that “there is 80% intermarriage among Europe’s Jewish communities, when compared with the total number of Jews.
“The number of visitors in the synagogues increased by 17% compared to the same period last year.”
Three quarters of European Jewish children are not enrolled in Jewish schools, and while “twice as many Jews are reported to attend synagogue prayers on Yom Kippur as on Saturdays throughout the year, 70% of Europe’s Jews choose not to go to the synagogue during the High Holy Days,” Margolin said.
The rise in European anti-Semitism that occurred during Israel’s recent military incursion into the Gaza Strip caused hundreds of Jewish parents to transfer their children to Jewish schools, he further claimed, without providing specific figures.
A 2013 study released by the European Union’s Agency for Fundamental Rights reported that a third of Jews polled in a number of EU countries refrained from wearing religious garb or Jewish symbols out of fear, and 23% avoided attending Jewish events or going to Jewish venues.
While 66% reported anti-Semitism as having a negative affect on their lives, 77% did not bother reporting abuse or harassment.
Almost a third were mulling emigration as a response to heightened anti-Jewish sentiment.
“Despite what people might think, anti-Semitism does not strengthen our ties with Jews overseas,” Diaspora Affairs Minister Naftali Bennett said prior to a cabinet meeting on anti-Semitism earlier this year.
“For every Jew who makes aliya as a result of anti-Semitism, there are many others who cut ties with Judaism and the Jewish way of life. Efforts to increase personal and community security must also be bolstered through the various funds and resources dealing with the matter.”
Anti-Semitic incidents increased 500% in one month in England during the recent Middle East conflict, and increased representation by neo-Nazi and ultra-nationalist factions in the European legislature has many continental Jews worried.
Speaking to reporters at a press conference in Tel Aviv in April, European Jewish Congress president Moshe Kantor asserted that “normative Jewish life is unsustainable” in Europe without decreased “fear and insecurity.”