Data gathered from more than 800 rabbis and members of the Rabbinical Center of Europe (RCA), together with the European Jewish Association (EJA), indicates that about half a million Jews will this year attend Rosh Hashanah tefilos held in 1353 synagogues across Europe, to mark the Jewish New Year next week.
Recent data of Jewish weddings in Europe, also indicates that there is 80% intermarriage among Europe’s Jewish communities, when compared with the total number of Jews.
Rabbi Menachem Margolin, General Director of the European Jewish Association and of the RCE revealed that, according to data gathered from more than 800 European Jewish communities in the lead-up to Rosh Hashanah, about 40% of Europe’s Jews choose to hide their Jewishness and about 75% of Jewish children in Europe are not enrolled in Jewish schools. In addition, whilst twice as many Jews are reported to attend shul on Yom Kippur as on Shabbos throughout the year, 70% of Europe’s Jews choose not to go to shul during the Yomim Nora’im.
Rabbi Margolin, whose organization offers the main defense of freedom of religion in Europe, said that the surge of far-right political groups across the continent, the dramatic expansion of Islam and Operation Protective Edge have presented bigger challenges than ever before for European Jewry: More attacks, more harassment of individuals, communities and institutions. More demonstrations and more politicians that speak impassioned speeches against Israel and the Jews.
Rabbi Margolin added that, in light of the rise of the extreme right-wing in the European Parliament, we cannot be consoled by saying, “There ends a year and its maledictions and a new one begins with its blessings”, and adding that the European Jewish Association is doing as everything in its power to increase cooperation with the new leadership of the Europe Union and to increase its commitment to empower education and enforcement against anti-Semitism in the EU countries.
Additionally Rabbi Menachem Margolin reported as a result of this new reality, there is also a large community of Jews in Europe that has heightened its connection to Judaism. Data collated by the RCE indicates that anti-Semitic incidents in schools have led to the transfer of hundreds of Jewish children from public schools to Jewish schools during the past year, and the number of visitors in the synagogues increased by 17 percent compared to the same period last year.
(YWN – Israel Desk, Jerusalem)