Join The Conversation With Mishpacha's Weekly Newsletter



The Opinionator: Is There a Future for Jews in Europe?

Gedalia Guttentag

CER President Rabbi Pinchas Goldschmidt: “Although Europe’s security issues seem to have stabilized, it’s the religious rights issue that’s not going to go away”

Wednesday, March 07, 2018

 Mishpacha image

 

L awmakers in Iceland have proposed a total ban on ritual circumcision for anyone under the age of 18. Jewish leaders are outraged over the bill, calling it an effective end to Jewish life in the island nation. A similar law was enacted and then overturned in Germany in 2012. Not since Nazi times has bris milah been banned in Europe. All of this comes on the back of a recent Polish law that outlaws any insinuation of Poland responsibility for the Holocaust.

Though Iceland’s Jewish community is tiny, the threat to Jewish freedoms everywhere is great. Once again, Jewish leaders are asking themselves:

Is there a future for Jews in Europe?


Jonathan Arkush, president of the British Board of Deputies

“You have to be careful about drawing too many threads together on this question. There’s a great gulf between Britain and Europe. British Jews have deep roots in the country; they feel British. France is different. The Jews there are mostly immigrants from North Africa who identify as Jews who live in France. Their problems with militant Islamists are much more serious.

“I’m broadly confident about a Jewish future in Britain because of its traditional tolerance for minorities. But I’m not so confident about the Scandinavian countries, where there is a genuine firestorm — as you see in Iceland — caused by militant secularism. They’re suffering there from a highly illiberal liberalism. Anything they don’t agree with, like milah and shechitah, they want to ban. They don’t have enough regard for religious rights.”


Rabbi Pinchas Goldschmidt, president, Conference of European Rabbis

“Two years ago, I would have said that radical Islamic terrorism is Europe’s main problem. Today that’s changed. In 2017 we saw — with a few exceptions — that European security services have got their act together. Emigration from France has stabilized. There’s a future there.

“Now, issues of religious freedom — including a new onslaught against milah and shechitah that is more ferocious than before — are the main threat.

“The worry is that Iceland will be a precedent for Scandinavia over the milah legislation. It’s because of Iceland’s tiny Jewish population that they actually chose it as the target to attack milah. It could provide a domino effect for the rest of Europe. I’m in touch with leaders of Muslim countries to fight this together.

“Although Europe’s security issues seem to have stabilized, it’s the religious rights issue that’s not going to go away and is the biggest threat to the Jewish future in Europe.”


Shimon Cohen, director, Shechitah UK

“Let’s understand what’s happening in Europe. From the 1960s to the 1990s there was no religious awareness in Western Europe. Since the mid-2000s, we’ve had a religious decade, but wholly negative due to 9/11 and the Iraq wars.

“Europe’s growing liberal society has led to two colliding philosophies: deeply religious versus deeply secular. The Muslims have championed public faith in the 21st century, and they have no desire to integrate. Since it’s no longer polite to say, ‘I hate Muslims,’ the alternative is to restrict Muslim life. So the Jewish community across Europe is suffering collateral damage. (Excerpted from Mishpacha, Issue 701)

Related Stories

Rose Report: Why Chareidim Are Ready for Elections

Binyamin Rose

Why would the chareidi parties terminate their dream government?

Washington Wrap: The Washington-Israel Nexus

Omri Nahmias

Rocked by instability and scandal, Bibi and Trump reaffirm their bond

Eye on Europe: The British Are Coming

Gedalia Guttentag

After seventy years of cold shoulder, Britain’s royals on the way to Israel

Share this page with a friend. Fill in the information below, and we'll email your friend a link to this page on your behalf.

Your name
Your email address
You friend's name
Your friend's email address
Please type the characters you see in the image into the box provided.
CAPTCHA
Message


MM217
 
I Also Read Perfidy
Rabbi Moshe Grylak I read it twice, and both times it kindled my rage
“Reeducate” UK’s Jewish Kids?
Yonoson Rosenblum Orthodox Jews in England face anti-religious agenda
Hold the Phone
Eytan Kobre Phew! Only one quote was something I simply hadn’t said
The Way I See It
Nathan Diament “Engagement with the policy makers is indispensable”
Pot of Gold
Yisroel Besser The Rebbetzin is gone, but the message is alive and well
More Top 5 Shiur Title Techniques
Rabbi Dovid Bashevkin Aside from the classics, here are five more
Bill of Rights
Rabbi Ron Yitzchok Eisenman “Whether Avrumi or Allan, whether peyos or blue jeans”
Don’t Thank Me
Jacob L. Freedman “Are you a psychiatrist or a witch doctor?!”
5 Things You Didn’t Know about Shlomo Simcha
Riki Goldstein 600 meals a day for poor people
You Can Always Rely on the Rebbe
Riki Goldstein “The chassan just wouldn’t take no for an answer”
Who Helped Advance These Popular Entertainers?
Riki Goldstein Unsung deeds boosted performers into the limelight
Profession of Perfection
Faigy Peritzman He’s not just an educator; he’s a role model
Summer Clock
Sarah Chana Radcliffe Consistency is key to drama-free bedtime
How Do I Find My Son’s Bashert?
Sara Eisemann “What about this girl made you think of my son?”