At the first pan-European Limmud FSU conference, which opened in Windsor, England, today, Jewish leaders from around the world reacted to a report released earlier this week by the Community Security Trust showing anti-Semitic hate crime is at a record high in the U.K.
“We’re all aware of the record number of anti-Semitic attacks that have been reported across the U.K.,” said Limmud FSU International Steering Committee Chairman Matthew Bronfman. “What are we doing about it? We’re gathering here, just outside of London – the U.K.’s largest Jewish community and place with the highest incidence of anti-Semitic hate crimes – to show the world who we are and why we’re important. Studying and learning and expressing our Judaism is how we fight this.”
“There is less anti-Semitism in Azerbaijan or Kazakhstan than there is in Europe right now,” said Conference of Presidents Vice Chairman Malcolm Hoenlein. “What did the Jews do wrong? It’s not what we did wrong; it’s what we did right. We are a strong and unified people – both in Europe and around the world – and the unity of the Jewish people will cause this resurgence of anti-Semitism to melt away.”
“There is more anti-Semitism in London than in any other European city. It’s shameful,” added Limmud FSU Founder Chaim Chesler. “We’re here in the U.K. to show that we are ready to fight back. Unlike on the eve of WWII, we will not be silent.”
The timing of this weekend’s conference was set many months ago. And while to those living in the UK the report only confirmed what was well known, the release provided a jump-start to multiple conversations. In speaking to eJP on the eve of the program, Sandra Cahn, Limmud FSU’s co-founder, said: “This weekend is an important opportunity for all the representatives from the 20 countries that will be gathered together at Limmud FSU to come together in solidarity. Many of them feel very disconnected from their local communities, and in the shadow of the anti-semitic attacks they experience now in Europe, this event creates a strong union and an extremely important force.”
Limmud FSU Europe, running today through Sunday, has brought together Jewish leaders from around the globe and more than 650 Russian-speaking European Jews. This pan-European gathering marks the first time in its decade-long history that Limmud FSU is not geared toward Russian-speaking Jews of a specific city or country. More than 250,000 Russian-speaking Jews currently reside in Europe, making it one of the world’s largest Russian-speaking Jewish communities in the world.