BEVERLY HILLS (CBSLA.com) — Temple Emanuel of Beverly Hills conducted a forum on the subject of rising anti-Semitism in Europe Saturday in connection with Yom Kippur, the holiest and most somber day on the Jewish calendar.
“Anti-Semitism in Europe: Challenge or Crisis,” was selected as the topic in early August “because it just seemed to be getting more and more attention,” said Rabbi Laura Geller, the temple’s senior rabbi.
“The theme for our High Holidays (observances) is `If not now, when?”‘ Geller told City News Service.
A series of shootings, anti-Semitic rallies and attacks on synagogues and Jewish-owned businesses have contributed to an environment of fear for
European Jews, Geller said.
As members of her congregation “read about what was happening in Europe, they became more and more concerned,” Geller said.
“Our community is confused about it,” Geller said. “I think the community is angry. Some people in the community are scared. It’s a pretty
important issue that both touches the Jewish community very personally and also has significance for the wider community as well.”
Amanda Susskind, Pacific Southwest Region director of the Anti-Defamation League who will be one of the forum’s panelists, described the
current level of anti-Semitism in France as serious, but said she always cautions people “to make the comparison to pre-Nazi Germany is not fair
“There is a vibrant Jewish community that is extremely vocal and has a great deal of respect,” Susskind said. “There is a government that supports
the Jewish community and has been outspoken to denounce anti-Semitism.”
Geller said she hopes the forum will lead to people understanding “what’s really happening in the world and why it’s happening in the world and
what we as a Jewish community here in North America ought to be doing in response.”
Temple Emanuel has held a Contemporary Issues Forum each Yom Kippur since shortly after Geller became its chief rabbi in 1994.
“We wanted to make it clear that the work of Yom Kippur is not just personal spiritual work, but it also has to do with our responsibility with the
larger world,” Geller said.
According to Jewish tradition, Yom Kippur is the day on which Moses came down from Mount Sinai with the second set of commandment tablets and
announced God’s pardon of the people.
Yom Kippur concludes after sunset Saturday.
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