Harassment of Jews throughout the world is at its highest levels in seven years. 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 throughout Western Europe, have been shocking and disturbing.
In these difficult times, Federation is on the ground and responding. Here’s what we’re doing:
- Raising and Allocating Funds
Federations have raised close to $1 million that has been allocated through our international partners, the Jewish Agency and the Joint Distribution Committee, to address important needs in France. This money will be used primarily to help the community 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, a delegation representing 18 Federations traveled to France on a mission 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. 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, providing on-site crisis management expertise and helping 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.
- Collaborating with Our Partners
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.
Not too long ago, we were able to imagine 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 partners and the leadership of the communities directly affected, to face these growing threats.
On May 31, Rockland Federation’s past president Nat Wasserstein (and current member of the JFNA Board of Trustees) and our Executive Director, Diane Sloyer will attend the annual JFNA Board Meeting. The keynote speaker will be Abraham H. Foxman, National Director of the Anti-Defamation League who will share his view of the risks that the Jewish people face in the years ahead.