This week our progressive Judaism debate tackles…the shootings in Brussels

How should we react to Brussels’ first anti-Semitic attack since the Second World War?

  • Rabbi Celia Surget

    Rabbi Celia Surget

    Rabbi Celia Surget says…

The most straightforward answer to such a question is: European Jewry should not give into fear. I’m not in any way attempting to minimise or undermine the gravity of the events that took place, nor minimise the additional attacks on Jews in France a couple of days later.

But the semantics that we use when confronted with such a reality can have no positive outcome. By using words such as the ‘first anti-Semitic terrorist attack since the Second World War’, we are feeding scare tactics that will only destroy the rich heritage that is thriving once again in Europe after the Second World War.

While we need to find effective and thoughtful security measures that will help communities, Jewish sites and individuals feel safe, we also need to focus on bringing the Jewish community together to mourn and to heal, and to celebrate how beautiful and rich European Jewry is.

Some will see in these attacks a justification to seek refuge elsewhere, in countries deemed ‘safer’ for Jews. We need to stand firm. Europe is our home, European Jewry our heritage.

• Celia Surget is rabbi at Radlett Reform Synagogue

  • Rabbi Mark Goldsmith says…
Rabbi Mark Goldsmith

Rabbi Mark Goldsmith

The answer is in the question. The awful and disgusting lack of regard for life and for his fellow human beings shown by the murderer at the Brussels Jewish Museum is an aberration. This is not representative of the attitude of the people of Belgium towards Jews and the Jewish community.

Belgium has been and will continue to be a safe home for Jews. The attack should not be reacted to as if it is part of a trend or a wider phenomenon. The murderer is defeated by Jewish life continuing to thrive, by our communal buildings being open places welcoming the stranger, by our communities living proudly as bearers of the Jewish heritage and builders of the Jewish future.

We do need to have an appropriate level of security around our buildings because once in a while there will be a person who has evil intent towards Jews, aiming to harm us, but we should not hand this person victory by making Jewish community life inaccessible to all but insiders.

Open Judaism is the best way to react against anti-Semitism.

• Mark Goldsmith is rabbi at Alyth (North Western Reform Synagogue)