European rabbis decry threat of assimilation

Rabbinical Center of Europe's Rabbinical Authority says that danger is graver than anti-Semitism.

chuppah assimilation 248 88 (photo credit: Courtesy)
chuppah assimilation 248 88
(photo credit: Courtesy)
The Rabbinical Center of Europe's Rabbinical Authority will host a conference of more than 300 European rabbis in Paris on Monday, amid growing concern over the accelerating assimilation of the continent's Jews. The Rabbinical Authority brings together the chief rabbis of Europe every six months. At the last meeting in September, the rabbis concluded that the biggest danger to European Jewry was assimilation, which has already finished off many Jewish communities, its gravity far outweighing both the threats of anti-Semitism and terrorism. The rate of assimilation in Europe is now more than 50 percent, "a disastrous reality," spokesman Asher Gold said on Sunday. The Rabbinical Center hopes to combat assimilation by opening a wider discussion with rabbis on the importance of maintaining the Jewish family unit. The group has for years been working to reduce the effects of assimilation by promoting the modern Jewish family. For example, it operates 25 mikvaot (ritual baths) and provides publications in many languages to instruct rabbis in how to sustain families and communities. "We are sure there are ways to stop assimilation and bring people to Judaism," said Gold, expressing optimistic regarding the results of Monday's conference. Assimilation was "especially high in England and Germany," which had lost more than 60 percent of their Jewish population in recent years, he said. "Unlike in Israel, in Europe a rabbi is not only a halachic authority and Torah scholar, but a leader of the Jewish community. Rabbis are best fit to lead their communities in solving this problem," Gold said.