More than 100 Jewish leaders from Europe gathered in Oporto to speak about antisemitism

More than 100 Jewish leaders from Europe gathered in Oporto to speak about antisemitism

On the 15th and 16th of May, more than 100 Jewish leaders from different parts of Europe gathered in Oporto for the annual conference of the European Jewish Association, which this year had as its theme “Shaping the Future of European Jewry Together". The event was organized in partnership with the Jewish Community of Oporto and the EMIH Association of Hungarian Jewish Communities.

The leaders spoke about antisemitism in their countries and actions to combat religious intolerance. Opening the conference, European Jewish Association Chairman Rabbi Menachem Margolin says:

“How many people here have actually been asked by a government official or politician what a Jewish future should look like, or what should be in any plan?  Not nearly enough. We must change this. Right now, as we meet, governments across Europe are coming forward with plans affecting Jewish life in Europe. We must ask ourselves what kind of future we want to see?  And what part all of us can do to make that vision a reality? We are one community undivided by borders, when we speak with one voice, we are stronger together.”

In his speech, the president of the Jewish Community of Porto Gabriel Senderowicz recalled that in 2021 the European Comission releases a program with strategies to combat antisemitism and foster Jewish life in Europe by 2030:  

“Many European governments confuse Jewish life with Jewish heritage. They think of Judaism as ancient houses that have been rehabilitated and some municipal museums that open on Shabbat. I am honored to be president of a community that has synagogues that respect traditional Judaism, that has kosher restaurants, films of history, a Jewish museum closed on Shabbat, and a Holocaust Museum that welcomes 50,000 children a year and teaches them that the aim of the Final Solution was to exterminate the Jews and not minorities in general.”

Also speaking at the event the Board Member of the Jewish Community of Oporto and director of the Holocaust Museum of Oporto Dr. Michael Rothwell, the Board Member of the Jewish Community of Oporto and President of Keren Hayesod Portugal Dr. Debora Elijah and the community member Ilan Cohen.

Other notable figures addressing the conference included: European Commission Vice-President Margaritis Schinas, The General Secretary of the French Inter-ministerial delegation for the fight against racism and antisemitism, Mrs Elise Fajgeles, the Personal Representative of Chairman in Office on Combatting antisemitism OSCE Rabbi Andrew Baker, Chair of the Woman’s Impact Forum at the World Jewish Congress, Ruth Wasserman Lande, World Zionist Organisation Head of Department for combatting antisemitism Raheli Baratz-Rix, and the CEO of NGO Monitor Prof. Gerald Steinberg.

Participants visited the Kadoorie Mekor Haim Synagogue, the Jewish Museum of Oporto and the Holocaust Museum of Oporto, and were impressed with the structure for Jewish life in the city. At the conclusion of the conference, a significant resolution was adopted through a collective vote among the Jewish leaders. This resolution will be transmitted to governments across Europe and the leadership of European Union institutions, which can be read here.