‘Jewish religion is under attack in Europe’

Conference of European Rabbis president says anti-Semitism in Europe is rooted in delegitimization of Israel.

May 8, 2013 04:01
2 minute read.
Rabbi Pinchas Goldschmidt [file].

Rabbi Pinchas Goldschmidt 370. (photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)


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BUDAPEST – “The Jewish religion is under attack in Europe” today, Conference of European Rabbis president Pinchas Goldschmidt told The Jerusalem Post on Monday in Budapest, where he was attending the World Jewish Congress’ 14th plenary assembly.

The CER boasts that it represents more than 700 communal rabbis in Europe – around “80 percent” of the continent’s synagogues.

The current attack, Goldschmidt argued, is a contemporary manifestation of traditional European anti-Semitism.

Quoting outgoing UK Chief Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks, Goldschmidt described a “process” in which as Europe has secularized, anti-Semitism has evolved from religious bigotry to “secular racist” sentiment to its current form of prejudice while “speaking the language of human rights.”

“Part of this is the delegitimization of the State of Israel and is also the delegitimization of the Jewish religion,” he explained, adding that the current challenges facing European Jewish practice are attacks on “shechita and on [brit] mila,” ritual slaughter and circumcision.

The rabbi cited the current ban on kosher slaughter in Poland, which until recently had served as a major exporter of kosher and halal meat.

The local community exists in a kind of “limbo,” he said, despite efforts by Poland’s Ministry of Agriculture to introduce legislation that would permit such slaughter for religious reasons.

While circumcision has been recently re-legalized for Jews in Germany, Goldschmidt told the Post, challenges still remain in that country.

A recent circumcision ceremony conducted by a hassidic rabbi in Berlin – during which he performed a controversial custom in which blood is orally suctioned from the wound – threatened to reopen the debate regarding circumcision, he said.

The issue of circumcision is an existential one for German Jews, Goldschmidt said he told German officials.

“If brit mila is going to be prohibited in Germany, this is the end of the Jewish community here,” he explained.

“It means that even if a German citizen is going to take his child to Israel or Belgium to do brit mila, according to the law these parents are going to be considered criminals.”

German Chancellor Angela Merkel “accepted” the Jewish community’s arguments and pushed for decriminalization of the practice, Goldschmidt said. She will be receiving the 2013 Lord Jakobovits Prize of European Jewry on May 22 in the Great Synagogue of Europe, in Brussels.

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