by Karen Faulkner, Worthy News Correspondent
(Worthy News) – The Chief Rabbi of Moscow warned this week that Jewish life in Europe is once again under serious threat due, among other things, to the intolerance of ritual slaughter and male circumcision practices that are central to Jewish religious expression. Writing in the Times of Israel, Rabbi Pinchas Goldschmidt attested: “There is almost no value in remembering the past if a country and its politicians don’t allow its Jewish population to live their life in the present.”
In explaining his concern that Europe’s Jewish communities are under renewed threat, Rabbi Goldschmidt noted that in December last year the European Court of Justice ruled Belgium could prohibit ‘shechita,’ the humane method of slaughtering animals according to Jewish law: “The ruling not only puts the value on animal life over human life but also drastically curtails the lengths that the Belgian Jewish community can go to freely practice and live their everyday religious lives,” Goldschmidt said. “Limiting access to kosher meat and its production and banning our essential religious practices such as brit milah (male circumcision) does indeed make Jewish life ‘impossible’ to live,” he added.
The impact of such legal decisions has caused many European Jews to leave their countries, Goldshmidt said: “They no longer feel welcome there. This is due to a rise in anti-Semitic acts, but also the limits on their religious freedom.” Discussing the way forward, Goldshmidt said Europe should take a leaf out of America’s book when it comes to allowing Jewish communities to thrive: it must stop the intolerance that is driving Jews away.
In particular, the Rabbi commended US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Kara McDonald for a speech she made last month to an expert meeting on fighting anti-Semitism: “[McDonald] made the obvious and applaudable statement that ‘the viability of Jewish communities is threatened in a different way through enacted or contemplated bans in some countries on ritual slaughter and male circumcision,’” Goldshmidt noted.
Calling on political leaders to ensure the viability of Jewish life in their countries, Goldshmidt urged: “Overcoming anti-Semitism means acknowledging the past, but creating a possibility for its future, too. In order to get to this future, countries must allow their Jewish population to live and practice their religion in the present.”
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