I share with you a recent update below from Michael Siegal, board chair of the Jewish Federations of North America, concerning the rise of anti-semitism in Western Europe and our continued efforts to support the Jewish people the world over.
Thank you for everything you do to support our community, whether here in St. Louis, Israel or anywhere there is a need.
President and CEO
The Pew Research Center released a new report showing that harassment of Jews throughout the world has reached a seven-year high. In Europe, news reports from the last two months describe a significantly deteriorating situation. Fatal attacks in France and Denmark, as well as vandalism against synagogues and other Jewish facilities, have been shocking and disturbing. In response, Federations have mobilized to help by:
Collaborating with Our Partners
Last week, with the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, JFNA convened a meeting of key organizations that provide funding and services to Jews in Europe. Together we examined the rapidly changing situation, shared information and explored potential areas for collaboration. The topics we discussed will guide our thinking and communal action as we continue to do our daily work of building and strengthening Jewish life around the world.
Raising and Allocating Funds
In recent weeks, Federations have raised close to $1 million that has been allocated through our international partners to address important needs in France. This money will be used primarily to help the community begin to address urgent security needs, and also to assist with post-trauma counseling.
Demonstrating Unwavering Solidarity
In addition to sending letters of support and holding solidarity rallies and memorial vigils, we sent a delegation representing 18 Federations on a mission to France to ensure that the Jewish community there understood that it is not alone.
Funding Aliyah for Those who Want to Relocate to Israel
Seven thousand people made aliyah from France in 2014, triple the number in 2012 and equivalent to one percent of the entire French Jewish community. This is the largest number of French olim in a single year in Israel’s history, and it may double again in 2015.
Enhancing Our Capacity to Address Security Concerns
Ensuring Jews are safe is a priority for national law enforcement groups, the Government of Israel and Jewish Federations. Sadly, we have learned from painful experiences right here at home that there is a real need for knowledge sharing about how to organize communities to prevent attacks and how to manage a crisis when a Jewish institution is attacked.JFNA’s Secure Community Network (SCN) has developed an unprecedented level of security expertise and close ties with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, and today is assisting Jewish communities worldwide.
Within hours of the attacks in France and Denmark, SCN staff was on the ground helping each community. SCN provided on-site crisis management expertise and helped strengthen local security efforts. SCN has also developed a network of professionals from Kansas City to Copenhagen who meet annually to develop new ways to secure our communities.
In the recent past, we may have imagined a time when our communities could step back from a focus on anti-Semitism and physical threats to Jewish institutions and individuals. Now, we clearly know that this is not that time. Our immediate response has been focused and strategic, providing both solidarity and assistance. Now we must look ahead, together with our historic partners and the leadership of the communities directly affected, to face these growing threats.
Chair, Board of Trustees