A European Jewish group says seven in ten Jews living on the continent plan to stay away from shul on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, because of security fears.
It follows polling for the European Jewish Association (EJA) and the Rabbinical Center of Europe (RCE), which share a director, Rabbi Menachem Margolin, who last year said Europe’s Jews should carry guns.
Margolin, who has also claimed that up to 45 percent of non-Jewish Europeans are anti-Semitic, blamed “immigrants and Muslim refugees,” saying: “The challenge has doubled… We are dealing with harassment of Jews by Muslims and with an increase in the power of the far-right.”
The survey results do not show who or how many were polled, nor how they were surveyed, or what they were asked, but Margolin said it was conducted over four days in September “in 700 capital cities and communities in the periphery throughout Europe”.
The Annual Report on Anti-Semitism Worldwide, published by Tel Aviv University and the Kantor Center for the Study of Contemporary European Jewry, contradicted Margolin’s findings, saying the number of attacks against European Jews and synagogues had dropped considerably.
“The number of violent anti-Semitic incidents decreased quite dramatically during 2015,” it reported earlier this year. “The most notable decrease is in cases perpetrated against synagogues, with a 70 percent decrease.”
However, Board of Deputies of British Jews president Jonathan Arkush dismissed the poll. He said: “I’m totally sceptical of the reliability of the so called poll. 78 Respondents are far too small a sample to be reliable. Moreover, the groups claiming to be responsible for the poll are a group of Chabad Rabbis with no mandate whatsoever to speak for European Jews. I wonder if they are indulging in headline-grabbing.
The poll does not represent reality for the UK and I suspect greatly overstates the position elsewhere in Europe. I have consulted the CST who are of the same view.
Of course not every Jewish individual attends synagogue on the High Holydays but the reasons are generally nothing to do with fears about security.”