….A few weeks ago a Jewish man was attacked and rendered unconscious in a Paris metro. How did the anti-Semitic mob recognize that he was Jewish? Because of a philosophy book by the chief rabbi of Paris that he was reading in the metro when he was attacked.
Meanwhile, half the Jewish families in Villepinte, working-class suburb north of Paris, have left due to anti-Semitism, fleeing to other Paris neighborhoods considered safer for Jews, or out of France entirely. Villepinte’s 40-year-old synagogue, already torched in 2001, will close because it often lacks a minyan.
In the UK, there have been many cases like that of an Orthodox child, who was wearing a kippa and tzitzit, verbally threatened and physically intimidated by a hooded youth as he travelled on a London bus.
When the faithful leave Rome’s main synagogue they immediately hide the skullcap. Police patrol the area day and night.
In the Netherlands, the country of Baruch Spinoza, police officers began wearingyarmulkes to catch Dutch Jew haters in the act of physical or verbal assault. Jewish students are told to “put a cap over your kippah”.
In Amsterdam, the shelter of Spanish Jews who fled from Inquisition, the twenty-five Lester M. Wolff van Ravenswade described the difficulties faced by Jews living in an open letter to the newspaper NRC Handelsblad: “I cannot go to public events dressed as a Jew, let alone go out on Saturday night. Which party do I have to vote for in order to live safely with the kippah on my head?”.
Everywhere in Europe, steel barriers are in place outside certain buildings with Jewish or Israeli connections to prevent parking.
In many British areas where Jews live the “Shomrin”, or guardians, patrol the streets like Israelis do in isolated “settlements” in Israel.
Last autumn the ancient Dutch synagogue of Weesp became the first synagogue in Europe since the Second World War to cancel Shabbat services due to the threats to the safety of the faithful.
Eighty years ago next January, Adolf Hitler seized power in Germany.
Every time I see a Jewish child walking down the street in Vienna, Paris or Rome wearing a kippah, I know that Hitler did not get to finish his job. It makes me feel proud – or at least somewhat better.
But the Holocaust, in which two thirds of European Jewry were annihilated, did not end when Nazi Germany and its satellites were routed militarily. The spirit of annihilation continues eighty years later. That’s why Israel’s former chief rabbi, Meir Lau, predicted that European Jewish history is nearing its end.
Indeed, it seems a tragic but unavoidable process: Europe as a Jew-free continent or a realm of fear in which Jews will survive as “invisible”, like during the Inquisition, where even lighting candles on Shabbath is a hazard because someone could see the holy flames from the street.
Europe’s streets are getting very dark these days and the sublime orchestras are playing Richard Wagner’s “Tristan und Isolde” and “Die Meistersinger” once more, while the faith in “truth as beauty and beauty as truth” can again meet its horrible end.