Western European Jews

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Napoleon and the Jews

Country or Territory — Core Jewish Population — Population per Jewish Person —Enlarged Jewish Population [Source: Wikipedia, 2018 +] <br/> France — 465,000 — 139 — 600,000 <br/> United Kingdom — 269,568 — 220 — 370,000 <br/> Germany — 99,695 — 832 — 250,000 <br/> Spain — 30,000 — 900 — 50,000 <br/> Belgium — 30,000 — 348 — 40,000 <br/> Netherlands — 29,900 — 563 — 45,000 <br/> Italy — 28,000 — 2,171 — 45,000

Switzerland — 19,000 — 424 — 25,000 <br/> Sweden — 15,000 — 648 — 20,000 <br/> Austria — 9,000 — 914 — 20,000 <br/> Denmark — 6,400 — 870 — 8,500 <br/> Greece — 4,500 — 2,398 — 6,000 <br/> Ireland — 1,600 — 3,020 — 2,400 <br/> Finland — 1,300 — 4,052 — 1,800

Norway — 1,300 — 3,960 — 2,000 <br/> Luxembourg — 600 — 867 — 900 <br/> Portugal — 600 — 18,022 — 1,000 <br/> Gibraltar — 600 — 48 — 800 <br/> Cyprus — 100 — 11,724 — 200 <br/> Slovenia — 100 — 19,882 — 200 <br/> Malta — 100 — 4,126 — 200 <br/> Iceland — 100 — 3,325 — 100

Websites and Resources: Judaism Judaism101 jewfaq.org ; Aish.com aish.com ; Wikipedia article Wikipedia ; torah.org torah.org ; Chabad,org chabad.org/library/bible ; Religious Tolerance religioustolerance.org/judaism ; BBC - Religion: Judaism bbc.co.uk/religion/religions/judaism ; Encyclopædia Britannica, britannica.com/topic/Judaism; Virtual Jewish Library jewishvirtuallibrary.org/index ; Yivo Institute of Jewish Research yivoinstitute.org ;

Jewish History: Jewish History Timeline jewishhistory.org.il/history ; Wikipedia article Wikipedia ; Jewish History Resource Center dinur.org ; Center for Jewish History cjh.org ; Jewish History.org jewishhistory.org ; Holocaust Museum ushmm.org/research/collections/photo ; Jewish Museum London jewishmuseum.org.uk ; Internet Jewish History Sourcebook sourcebooks.fordham.edu ; Complete Works of Josephus at Christian Classics Ethereal Library (CCEL) ccel.org ; "Jew of Malta" by Christopher Marlowe on Gutenberg.org

Evolution of Jews in Western Europe

Jacob Kat wrote in the International Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences: While Hasidism was altering Jewish society in eastern Europe from within, Jewry in western Europe was being transformed by forces from without. The theory and practice of separateness, which had been the way of Jewish life, was becoming progressively less tenable. Intellectual, social, and political forces were, in the course of a century, from 1750 to 1850, transforming Europe from a semifeudal society into a society of classes having a relatively high mobility. The status of Jewry within this new framework had to be re-defined, and internally the old tradition had to be adapted to the new conditions. [Source: Jacob Kat. International Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences, Encyclopedia.com]

The idea of Jewish political and social emancipation was originally conceived by John Toland in England in 1714, spelled out in detail in 1781–1783 in Germany by Ch. W. Dohm, and first implemented during the French Revolution. In the United States, Jewish equality was implied in the constitution. In the following decades the idea of emancipation spread to all countries of western Europe, and by 1870, after much struggle and some reverses, political emancipation was an accomplished fact. Alongside these social and political changes, intellectual contact with European thought took place. In the last third of the eighteenth century, the first Jewish secular intellectuals appeared, headed by Moses Mendelssohn. They were deeply influenced by the doctrines of the Enlightenment and later by other European intellectual currents.

Mendelssohn and the Jewish Enlightenment

Moses Mendelssohn (1729–86) is credited with being the pioneer in bringing the Jewish people into the modern world. According to Encyclopaedia Judaica: Religious truth, taught Mendelssohn, was universal and could be attained by the exercise of the free human reason. No special revelation was required. The Torah, for Mendelssohn, is not revealed religion but revealed legislation. The eternal truths that there is a God, that He is good, and that man's soul is immortal are revealed in all places and at all times. Mendelssohn, thus speaking as a child of the Enlightenment, succeeded in paving the way for those Jews — and they were many — who wished to eat of its fruits. [Source: Louis Jacobs,Encyclopaedia Judaica, 1990s, Encyclopedia.com]

But Mendelssohn was not able to explain adequately why a special revelation to Israel was necessary if the basic truths were attainable by all men. What was the purpose of this special revealed legislation and, if it had value, why was this confined to a special group? He speaks of "a special favor" for "very special reasons," but nowhere states what these reasons were. Moreover his advice to his fellow Jews to comply with the customs and civil constitutions of the countries in which they lived while, at the same time, being constant to the faith of their forefathers, was easier said than done. Nevertheless no modern Jew is immune from Mendelssohn's influence, and, by the same token, opponents of any kind of modernism in the Jewish camp have laid all the ills of subsequent Jewish faithlessness at Mendelssohn's door.

With the possible exception of the Oriental communities, every Jew in the post-emancipation era, insofar as he strove to remain Jewishly committed, was a disciple of the Gaon, or the Ba'al Shem Tov, or Mendelssohn, with many Jews disciples of more than one of these great figures at the same time.

German Jews

Jewish German soldier

There are about 100,000 Jews in Germany today. Germany counted more than 530,000 Jews in 1933, when Hitler came to power. About 365,000 Jews lived in Germany during the early Nazi years only 200,000 remained in 1939 at the start of World War II, as many had emigrated to escape Nazi violence, and only 12,000 Jews remained at the end of World War II. By 1990, the figure had risen to about 27,000 Jews in West Germany and 400 in East Germany. After a decision was made in the 1990s to make it easier for an unlimited number of Jews from the former Soviet Union to move to Germany and obtain automatic citizenship the number of Jews in Germany rose to 100,000.

Of the 3,500 Jews in the eastern German town of Chemnitz in 1933, only 59 were there in 1945 and 17 in 1990. After the war the majority of Jews who survived emigrated to Israel or the United States. There were only about 30,000 Jews in Germany before the ones from the former Soviet Union arrived most of them lived in Berlin.

Today, Germany is one of the friendliest countries in Europe toward Israel. There are numerous memorials, museums and exhibitions regarding the Holocaust in Germany. One of the first times that Germans really faced the horrors of their Nazi past was after the broadcast of "Holocaust," a miniseries by Marvin Chomsky broadcast in 1979.

Colin Nickerson wrote in the International Herald Tribune: “Shelly Kupferberg, 31, is the granddaughter of Jews who fled the Nazi terror in the 1930s for the land that would become Israel. Her parents returned to Berlin in the early 1970s, weary of Israel's wars and yearning for their German heritage. She was raised both as a Jew and a German, and takes pride in both identities. "It's great to be a Jew in Germany," said Kupferberg, a journalist and adviser to Berlin's Jewish Festival. "There's this feeling of a unique culture being reborn - with more people in the synagogues, more Jewish artists, a sense, at last, that it's completely normal for Jewish people to be living and working here. That's something you couldn't say until recently." [Source: Colin Nickerson, International Herald Tribune, December 2005]

History of Jews in Germany

There were around 533,000 in Germany in 1933. About half of all German Jews emigrated when the Nazis came to power. Most of those that remained died in death camps. Only a few Jews who left returned to Germany after the war. Altogether, six million Jews from all over Europe were exterminated in World War II.

German Jews in the Nazi era

Colin Nickerson wrote in the International Herald Tribune: “In 1933, when Adolf Hitler came to power, Germany's Jewish population stood at 530,000. Berlin, famed for tolerance, was home to some of the world's foremost Jewish writers, philosophers and scientists. By 1943, however, the Nazis had declared Germany "Judenrein," or cleansed of Jews. In fact, several thousand remained hidden in Germany or returned from concentration camps after the Holocaust, which killed six million European Jews. [Source: Colin Nickerson, International Herald Tribune, December 2005]

“Before the 1989 collapse of the Berlin Wall, Germany's Jewish population stood at barely 25,000, mostly survivors of World War II and their offspring. Since then, encouraged by liberal immigration laws, the number has swelled to more than 200,000, according to estimates by the government and Jewish groups. Last year, twice as many Jews, 20,000, settled in Germany as in Israel, according to Jewish groups.”

Jewish Renaissance in Germany

In 2010, AFP reported, “more than 300 German and foreign Jewish leaders attended” a ceremony in Leipzig “in a brightly colored 19th century synagogue that somehow managed to survive the 1938 "Kristallnacht" Nazi pogrom. "Judaism is alive and well in Germany," said World Jewish Congress president Ronald Lauder, whose foundation supports Jewish communities, rabbinic schools and the Berlin Orthodox seminary from which two new rabbis graduated.” [Source: Frederic Bichon, AFP Monday, September 6, 2010]

Colin Nickerson wrote in the International Herald Tribune: In a turnaround few would have imagined, Germany today boasts the fastest-growing Jewish population in the world. The signs of a Jewish renaissance can be caught in small glints across Germany. In Leipzig, Rabbi Joshua Spinner, a Canadian-American who has brought a missionary zeal to keeping Orthodox customs alive in Germany, recently presided at the first Jewish wedding recorded in the city since 1938, according to the Jüdische Allgemeine Zeitung newspaper. [Source: Colin Nickerson, International Herald Tribune, December 2005]

“In Potsdam, Ukrainian immigrants, after years of holding worship services in a cramped, fluorescent-lit meeting room of a civic building, have won a patch of land from the government and are raising money to build a synagogue. In Cologne, Frankfurt, and Hamburg, small but well-attended Jewish schools and kindergartens have opened over the past several years, intended to expose children to the Hebrew language, Torah studies and the spiritual ideas behind ritual practices. For many Jewish youngsters from Eastern Europe, this is their first formal religious instruction. A Jewish academy in Frankfurt trains girls and young women in ancient texts”

German Jewish Gay Pride group

“But it is in Berlin, above all, where a new German-Jewish identity is being forged. "Berlin is coming back as a center for rich Jewish life," said Irene Runge, a New Yorker who heads Berlin's Jewish Cultural Association. "It's an exciting place to be right now." For the Orthodox, there is a new yeshiva, or religious school, sponsored by the U.S.-based Ronald S. Lauder Foundation. On more secular fronts, there are Yiddish theater groups, Jewish bookshops, exhibits of Jewish art and readings of Jewish poetry. Berlin's new Jewish Museum, finished in 2001, focuses on the prominence of Berlin's Jewish community from the 18th century to the early 1930s, when the city ranked as one of the most important Jewish centers in the world.

“The refurbished golden dome and Moorish exterior of Berlin's old "New Synagogue" is once again a proud city landmark. Pilgrims leave small pebbles as tokens at the grave of Moses Mendelssohn, philosopher of the German Enlightenment.There is a sprinkling of kosher shops that do brisk business in matzohs, gefilte fish and sweet Israeli wine. There are two rival Jewish newspapers, both published in German. And most tourist stands display colorful guides and maps to "Jewish Berlin" -a term that no longer connotes horror.”

Jews in Berlin

Of the 160,000 Jews that lived in Berlin in 1933 about 82,000 emigrated. Fewer than 6,000 survived the war. The remainder died in the holocaust. In the 1990s there were about 10,000 Jews in Berlin, including Daniel Barenboim the celebrated musical director of the German State Opera. Many of the Berlin Jews are recent immigrants from the former Soviet Union.

Tom Heneghan of Reuters wrote: “Berlin’s Jewish community, decimated by the Holocaust, has been steadily growing since Germany reunited in 1990. Thousands of Jews have moved in, synagogues, schools and shops have opened and some young rabbis have been trained and ordained. Of the 160,000 Jews living in Berlin before the Second World War, 90,000 fled abroad, 55,000 died in concentration camps and 7,000 committed suicide to escape Nazi terror, according to the Jewish Community of Berlin. Only 8,000 were left in 1945. [Source: Tom Heneghan, Religion Editor, Reuters, October 28, 2011]

“Starting in 1989, Jews from the former Soviet Union began flocking to Berlin. Young Israelis started settling here in the mid-1990s. Now there are an estimated 30,000 Jews in the city, but nobody knows for sure because not all of them are registered with the established communities. “Many Russian Jews are not registered because, if you do, you have to pay the religious tax,” Teichtal said, referring to the tax that members of recognized religions in Germany must pay.

Russian Jews in Germany

Colin Nickerson wrote in the International Herald Tribune: Most newcomers are from Russia - Jews seeking a better life in a more prosperous place, but also escaping the anti-Semitism that seethes in many parts of the former Soviet Union. The "Russian Jews" - the term embraces the thousands arriving from Russia, Ukraine, Belarus and the Baltic states - are joined by a small but significant number of young Jews from Israel, the United States, Canada and Australia. [Source: Colin Nickerson, International Herald Tribune, December 2005]

Jewish immigrant and soldier at an immigrant camp in Israel

“Partly to atone for the Holocaust, Germany offers resettlement programs for Jews from Eastern Europe. It is much easier for Jews to win legal entry to Germany than to other parts of Western Europe or the United States. Israel also keeps its open doors, but many Jews from the former Soviet Union see Israel as either too dangerous because of the struggle with Palestinians, or as too alien because of its Middle Eastern culture and desert climate. "Germany is Europe, and I am European as much as I am a Jew," said Frida Scheinberg, a veterinarian who recently arrived in Germany from Ukraine. "Germany was a good place for Jews before Hitler. It feels safe and prosperous. Its cities, its climate, its customs all seem familiar. Israel seems strange to me, with the hot sun and the hot tempers."” "In the old Russia, nothing changes - when things go wrong, blame the Jew. Germans understand such things must never happen here again," Tkach added.

Some Jewish immigrants admit to ambivalence about their choice of a new country, even as they defend it. "There is a twinge of guilt, some secret shame, I think, in the heart of every Jew who calls Germany home," said Josef Eljaschewitsch, a physician from Latvia. "And yet, for Jews not to come here - to surrender our stolen heritage in this country - would be to give the Nazis a sort of final victory: a Jew-free Germany." "Most of us come for bread-and-butter reasons, to make money, to ensure our children's futures are secure," he said. Mykhaylo Tkach, an engineer from Ukraine, "But our dream is also to make Germany a place where Jews and Jewishness can once again flourish. Against all odds, I believe that's starting to happen."

Tensions Caused by Influx of Russian Jews to Germany

Colin Nickerson wrote in the International Herald Tribune: “While Germany's Jewish community is full of hope for the future, its rapid expansion has brought new tensions- with animosity festering between longtime German-speaking Jews and recent immigrants from Eastern Europe, many of whom had lost their Jewish traditions, if not their identity, under decades of Communist rule. "This is a time of difficult transition for a community that was once tiny and insular, but has suddenly grown large," said Stephan Kramer, secretary general of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, the nation's umbrella organization for Jewish groups. "There is friction, there is anger, there is distrust, there is fear. We have started to lay the foundation for a dynamic Jewish culture in Germany. But we are far from completing the house." [Source: Colin Nickerson, International Herald Tribune, December 2005]

“Some question whether all the newcomers can legitimately call themselves Jews; until this year, when Germany tightened the rules to weed out impostors, almost any former Soviet citizen with a Jewish ancestor could qualify. Traditional law defines a Jew as an individual with a Jewish mother or someone who has undergone conversion to Judaism; Germany now requires that prospective Jewish immigrants have at least one Jewish parent, as well as some command of German and marketable skills.

“Integration has been complicated by Germany's recent unemployment woes, with many Russian Jews drawing welfare, and resentment. But many Jews are confident that once the economy rebounds, differences among Jews will inevitably heal. "Many problems, yes, but most former Soviet Jews in Germany feel ourselves to be in a much safer situation," said Mykhaylo Tkach. "The anti-Semitism here is minor compared to what we experienced in the places from which we came."

Russian Jews Revitalize Jewish Communities in Germany

Hamburg synagogue

Frederic Bichon, of AFP wrote: “Judaism is making a comeback in Germany 65 years after the Holocaust, thanks largely to immigration from the ex-Soviet Union, as shown by the ordination in Leipzig this week of two rabbis. The ordination as Orthodox rabbis of the men originally from Uzbekistan and Lithuania was Germany's second since 1945, underscoring the growth of the eastern city's Jewish community that 20 years ago numbered only 30. [Source: Frederic Bichon, AFP Monday, September 6, 2010 ***]

“The two new Orthodox rabbis are among the arrivals: Shlomo Afanasev was born 29 years ago in Tashkent and Moshe Baumel, 22, is orginally from Vilnius. Addressing the young rabbis in the Eastern-style synagogue, Lauder spoke of their tangled journeys to Germany, pointing out that their wives had also come from far and wide: Afanasev's wife is from Ukraine and Baumel's from Siberia. "My message to you is — you never know where you'll end up," Lauder said. ***

“In the aftermath of World War II and the ravages of the Nazi regime, few would have believed there would be a Jewish renaissance, said Charlotte Knobloch, who heads the Central Council of Jews in Germany. Leipzig had 12,000 worshippers in the 1920s, she said. After the fall of the Berlin Wall 20 years ago, there were only 30 left. Now there are nearly 1,300, most immigrants from the former USSR, she said. "In all the Jewish communities I have visited over the past few years I've been made aware ... of the hope there is of being able to continue to live in a country which has caused so much suffering to our families ... and trust in this country, its democracy, and its inhabitants," she said. "No one could have imagined that after the war," she told reporters. "What once was utopia is now reality." ***

“Knobloch presides over a community in which nine out of 10 people originate in former Soviet states. She was born to a conservative family, but many former Soviet Jews are Orthodox. "But for a religion, such differences in origin are unimportant," she told AFP. "What's important isn't where they come from (the rabbis), but where they studied, and whether they were trained as conservatives, liberals or Orthodox," she added. In an environment in which many worshippers are immigrants, having two new rabbis from the same background is helpful, said Hermann Simon, who heads the foundation in charge of Berlin's main synagogue. "It's really a good thing that a rabbi can talk (to his flock) in their mother tongue, because sometimes he had to deal with difficult problems," he said. ***

“One of the new rabbis, Moshe Baumel opened the ordination ceremony in German, the language he grew up with, having arrived in Germany at the age of three, saying "this isn't just an ordination festival, but an integration festival". Some Germans are still responsible for acts of violence against foreigners or Jews, said Stanislaw Tillich, who heads the regional government of Saxony where neo-Nazis are active. But, "The duty of democrats is to defend ... Judaism in Germany," he said.” ***

French Jews Emigrate to Israel

There are about 465,000 Jews in France, the largest population of them in Europe. Jews have lived in France since the time of the Romans, but in recent years, after a series of terrorist attacks there, some have started to leave. Immigrants from France make up a sizable portion of all Europeans migrating to Israel. In 2013, about 12,000 Europeans migrated to Israel, at least 3,000 of them French. In 2014, 7,000 French people migrated to Israel. In 2015, Israeli authorities forecast that 15,000 Jews from France would arrive in Israel, and many more would seek visas to Canada and the United States. Total immigration from all countries to Israel has averaged about 20,000 Jews per year over the past decade. The French government has not been happy about the trend. "France, without the Jews of France, is no longer France," French Prime Minister Manuel Valls said. [Source: Associated Press, February 15, 2015 /=]

Associated Press reported: “French Jews have been increasingly migrating to Israel, a pattern that dismayed the French government well before the attacks at the kosher supermarket and since has left top officials pleading for them to stay. The exodus from France accelerated after the March 2012 attacks by Mohammed Merah, who stormed a Jewish school in Toulouse, killing three children and a rabbi. The government has beefed up protection at synagogues, Jewish schools and other sensitive sites.” /=\

William Booth and Ruth Eglash wrote in the Washington Post, “Soon after four Jewish men were killed in a hostage-taking siege at a kosher market in Paris” in January 2015, week, the Israeli leadership leapt to offer refuge. “To all the Jews of France, all the Jews of Europe, I would like to say that Israel is not just the place in whose direction you pray; the state of Israel is your home,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a televised address. [Source: William Booth and Ruth Eglash, Washington Post, January 15, 2015 /*/]

French Jews in the 18th century

“The rising numbers of Jews leaving France for Israel are not fleeing war or annihilation, like the founding generation that came before and immediately after World War II. Nor are French Jews like earlier waves of Russian-speakers and Ethiopian Jews who fled the collapse of the Soviet Union and the poverty of Africa in the 1980s and 1990s — a phenomenon characterized as “crisis aliyah.” /*/

“The coming of the French Jews, said Natan Sharansky, chairman of the Jewish Agency for Israel, is “a unique historical phenomenon” that poses new challenges and opportunities for Israel. “We are moving from an aliyah of rescue to an aliyah of free choice,” Sharansky said. For the first time in Israeli history, Sharansky said, more than half of the Jewish immigrants who arrived in Israel last year came from Western-style democracies, with migration from France at the top. /*/

Jean-Charles Bensoussan, 62, a French physician from Lyon who arrived in 2014 and now works as a dentist in Israel, “said he was beaten up on the street twice by Arab immigrants, whom he described as having grown more religious and more hostile to Jews. “If you wear a skullcap on the streets of France? I tell you, it’s suicide,” he said. Emmanuelle Ohnouna, 36, lived in Paris, where she worked as a pharmacist. She is now studying Hebrew alongside Bensoussan and a dozen other new friends at a school in Jerusalem’s city center. /*/

“The Israeli government provides immigrants with a little help — some job counseling, a break on import duties for the purchase of one automobile, low-interest mortgages and six months of Hebrew lessons. “We didn’t move to Israel because we were afraid,” Ohnouna said. “We wanted the best for our children. “If you wanted to be in a country that is safe, we would have gone to America or Canada. We know the problems here, and we are ready to live with them.”“ /*/

Israel Debates Whether or Not to Welcome French Jews

The new wave of French Jews moving to Israel, William Booth and Ruth Eglash wrote in the Washington Post, is “already rekindling debate among Jews, who ask: Is it better for French Jews to come to Israel or stay home and insist that French society, including the country’s swelling Muslim population, accommodate them? [Source: William Booth and Ruth Eglash, Washington Post, January 15, 2015]

“The debate comes with a contemporary twist: If Jews abandon France in large numbers, are they not doing just what Islamist extremists want — ridding France of its Jews? “I think what we are seeing now is the old Zionism, the idea that the only place to be is Israel,” said Smadar Bar-Akiva, executive director of JCC Global, an umbrella group of more than 1,000 Jewish community centers worldwide. “Aliyah is wonderful. We would love to have more Jews in Israel,” Bar-Akiva said, using the Hebrew term for immigration, or “ascending,” to Israel. “But I’d also like to have strong Jews all around the world. I think that it is self-defeating for us to tell them to pack their bags and leave France.”

Jewish Foreign Legion group

Some commentators in Israel complained that the leadership was tone-deaf to the realities of Jews living in Europe, who feel deep allegiance for the countries of their birth. “I don’t think the European situation is such that it requires a massive exodus to Israel,” said Elie Barnavi, a history professor at Tel Aviv University and a former Israeli ambassador to France. Barnavi said French Jews who make aliyah should be propelled by a love for Israel, not by panic. “Not only is the government not anti-Semitic, the French public and the press are not anti-Semitic either. It is not comparable to the 1930s,” he said. “We are talking about people who now come here by choice. Most of the people will choose to stay in France because life is comfortable,” Barnavi said. “It is not easy to leave behind your culture, your language, your friends.”

Others defended Netanyahu for his offer. “I am sorry to tell you the truth: The terrible crime Netanyahu committed is called Zionism,” Boaz Bismuth, a former correspondent in Paris, wrote in the newspaper Israel Today. Yair Lapid, head of a centrist political party and no friend of Netanyahu, said: “European Jewry must understand that there is just one place for Jews, and that is the state of Israel.”

French Jews in Israel

The new wave of French Jews moving to Israel, William Booth and Ruth Eglash wrote in the Washington Post, is “already rekindling debate among Jews, who ask: Is it better for French Jews to come to Israel or stay home and insist that French society, including the country’s swelling Muslim population, accommodate them? [Source: William Booth and Ruth Eglash, Washington Post, January 15, 2015 /*/]

“What the newcomers will find when they arrive in Israel and how they will change Israeli society are big, open questions.” France is “Europe’s founding democracy, a liberal, multicultural, modern nation that provides ample government services — education, health care, pensions — to its citizens, including Jews, w The most common reasons cited for leaving: the weak European economy and rising anti-Semitism. /*/

“Dov Maimon, a French-born Israeli at the Jewish People Policy Institute in Jerusalem, said he thinks that half of France’s 500,000 Jews will leave the country over the next 15 years. “This is a historical opportunity for Israel,” Maimon said. But it requires a new approach, he said: These French Jews must be wooed. Zionism — the international movement for the return of the Jewish people to their homeland — might not be enough. “In the old model, people came in distress, from Ethiopia and Morocco, and were put in Dimona,” a drab town in the middle of the Negev desert. “Now if Israel did that, the French would just leave,” he said. “If we do not plan properly, the wealthy Jews will move to somewhere else," he said. "The most integrated Jews will assimilate and remain where they are. And only the traditional, ideological and underprivileged Jews will come to Israel.” /*/

“In recent years, Israelis have stereotyped the French arrivals as cliquish snobs who buy big condos on the beach and don’t bother to learn decent Hebrew. But the reality is that many French newcomers are middle-class wage-earners who struggle like most Israelis with the high cost of living here. “You have to lower your standards,” said Bensoussan. Here in Israel, he said, a French accountant gets a job as a bookkeeper. An international textile merchant runs a call center. The salaries are low. Professional accreditations from France — diplomas and licenses to practice law, medicine, architecture — are not accepted. The rents are sky-high, the housing stock is poor. The prices are as steep as in Paris, Bensoussan said. The language is hard, especially for those who are middle-aged. “You feel like a dummy,” he said.” /*/

Netanyahu Calls for ‘Massive Immigration’ of Europe’s Jews

In 2015, Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called for a "massive immigration" of European Jews to Israel following a deadly shooting near Copenhagen's main synagogue, Associated Press reported: “Netanyahu said that at a time of rising anti-Semitism in Europe, Israel is the only place where Jews can truly feel safe. His comments triggered an angry response from Copenhagen's chief rabbi, Jair Melchior, who said he was "disappointed" by the remarks. "People from Denmark move to Israel because they love Israel, because of Zionism. But not because of terrorism," Melchior told The Associated Press. "If the way we deal with terror is to run somewhere else, we should all run to a deserted island." [Source: Associated Press, February 15, 2015 ^/^]

“Netanyahu issued his call during the weekly meeting of his Cabinet, which approved a previously scheduled $46 million plan to encourage Jewish immigration from France, Belgium and Ukraine — countries where large numbers of Jews have expressed interest in moving to Israel. France and Belgium have experienced deadly attacks on their Jewish communities in in recent years, most recently an attack in Paris last month that killed four Jews at a kosher market. Ukraine, meanwhile, is in the midst of a conflict between government troops and Russian-backed separatists. "This wave of attacks is expected to continue," Netanyahu told his Cabinet. "Jews deserve security in every country, but we say to our Jewish brothers and sisters, Israel is your home." ^/^

“Netanyahu's comments came amid a tight re-election campaign ahead of March 17 elections. Seeking a third consecutive term, Netanyahu has focused his campaign on Israel's security needs, repeatedly warning voters about the many threats from Islamic radicals throughout the region. There was no immediate reaction from his chief opponents. Netanyahu spoke at a time of rising tensions with European countries over Israeli settlement activity in the West Bank and east Jerusalem, captured territories claimed by the Palestinians. Some Israelis believe such criticism has helped fuel anti-Semitism. ^/^

“European leaders, however, have insisted that their criticism has no bearing on the treatment of their own Jewish communities. When Netanyahu rushed to France following the deadly supermarket standoff and urged the country's Jews to move to Israel, French leaders signalled their unhappiness. ^/^

Image Sources: Wikimedia, Commons

Text Sources: Internet Jewish History Sourcebook sourcebooks.fordham.edu “World Religions” edited by Geoffrey Parrinder (Facts on File Publications, New York); “ Encyclopedia of the World’s Religions” edited by R.C. Zaehner (Barnes & Noble Books, 1959); “Old Testament Life and Literature” by Gerald A. Larue, King James Version of the Bible, gutenberg.org, New International Version (NIV) of The Bible, biblegateway.com Complete Works of Josephus at Christian Classics Ethereal Library (CCEL), translated by William Whiston, ccel.org , Metropolitan Museum of Art metmuseum.org “Encyclopedia of the World Cultures” edited by David Levinson (G.K. Hall & Company, New York, 1994); National Geographic, BBC, New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Smithsonian magazine, Times of London, The New Yorker, Time, Newsweek, Reuters, AP, AFP, Lonely Planet Guides, Compton’s Encyclopedia and various books and other publications.

Last updated February 2024

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