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Thursday, September 22, 2016

Poll: European Jews afraid to attend holiday services

A survey by the European Jewish Association suggests few Jews in Europe will attend synagogue for this year’s Rosh Hashanna and Yom Kippur holidays as security fears grow and with harassment by Muslims on the rise.

According to the study, which spanned 700 Jewish communities from England to the Ukraine, 70% of European Jews said they would not be attending synagogue during the holiday season.
The study also showed that membership in Jewish organizations and local communities had dropped significantly, with 50% of Jewish communities registering a decline in the number of active members, compared with only 11% who showed an increase.

EJA General Director Rabbi Menachem Margolin noted that three-quarters of Jewish communities in Europe had reported increased security presence by local and national authorities due to elevated terror threat levels over the past year.

The overwhelming majority of community leaders, Rabbi Margolin added, said that other security precautions, including increased private security, had been undertaken over the past year.

“The challenge faced by most Jewish communities has been doubled in recent months,” said Rabbi Margolin. “On the one hand, the surge in harassment of Jewish individuals, institutions, and communities by, among others, Muslim refugees and migrants – and on the other, as a result of the refugee crisis there has been a substantial increase in activity among far-right extremist groups across the continent.”

The primary focus of the far-right lately has been on Islamic immigration, Rabbi Margolin said, but “based upon testimony by rabbis and community leaders, we have a worrisome picture signaling a significant increase in the level of nationalism and xenophobia, targeting European Jews as well.”