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Canadian provincial government, Quebec, wants to ban religious symbols for public workers

WJC, The French-speaking Canadian province of Quebec is planning to ban public workers from wearing religious symbols including Jewish skullcaps (kippot or yarmulkes). The measure was unveiled on Tuesday by the Parti Quebecois, a separatist party which controls the provincial government. Supporters say the ban, which would apply to teachers, police officers and others, would promote secular society. The federal government said it might challenge the law in court if it is adopted.
The government of the province said the proposed Charter of Quebec Values, as the law is named, promoted state neutrality on religion, including among those who work in the public sector. "That is why the government of Quebec is proposing to ban public employees from wearing ostentatious religious symbols during work hours," Bernard Drainville, Quebec’s minister of democratic institutions, said at a press conference. Those included "very obvious symbols" which "send a clear message: 'I am a believer and this is my religion,'" he added.
The proposed law would ban prominent crucifixes, all manner of Islamic covering, Sikh turbans and Jewish skullcaps but would allow public workers to wear discreet religious symbols including small crucifixes or a Star of David. The ban would not apply to elected officials because people have a right to choose their representation, Drainville said.
The Parti Quebecois has no overall majority in the Quebec legislature and must win support from another party in order to enact the measure, and officials say it would be introduced for debate later this year.
Strong criticism from Jewish community, federal government
Political and religious leaders voiced opposition to the measure.
“It is unacceptable and will only serve to inflame civil discourse,” the Center for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA), the Canadian affiliate of the World Jewish Congress, said in a strongly worded statement. The proposed legislation is “discriminatory, arbitrary, provocative and will sow the seeds of division that the government claims it wishes to avoid.CIJA said the Quebec government "is rehashing old, out-of-context stories in order to generate support for the unwarranted attack on the basic rights and freedoms of Quebecers.” The statement added that “The prohibition on wearing religious symbols in the public and para-public service is not justified and would exclude a large number of Quebecers. The role of the state should be to bring people together, not to divide them."
CIJA counters that the separation of church and state is well entrenched and there’s no need for new laws.
“The prohibition on wearing religious symbols in the public and para-public service is not justified and would exclude a large number of Quebecers. The role of the state should be to bring people together, not to divide them,” it says.
The federal government has said it would seek legal advice on the issue. "If it's determined that a prospective law violates the constitutional protections to freedom of religion to which all Canadians are entitled, we will defend those rights vigorously," Federal Minister Jason Kenney said.



Kreplach can be boiled and served in soup or fried and served as a side dish.

1 ¾ cups flour
2 eggs
½ tsp. Salt
3 Tbsp. Oil
In a bowl combine dough ingredients together. Roll out thin on floured board. Cut into 3-inch squares or circles.
Place a teaspoon of filling carefully in center. Lift the sidesover the filling and press edges together.

Boiling: Place in boiling salted water. Cook for 20 minutes until kreplach float to top.

Saute: Heat oil over medium flame in 10-inch skillet. Saute boiled kreplach until golden brown on both sides.

1 cup ground cooked beef or chicken
1 small onion, grated
1 tsp. salt

In a bowl mix filling ingredients well.


Holocaust-themed video game for smartphones developed

WJC, The developer of a Holocaust-themed game rejected in 2008 by Nintendo has now announced plans to release his work for smartphone users. Luc Bernard, 26, announced his plan on the website ‘Indiegogo’, a platform which helps developers and inventors find funding for their products.
Bernard created a stir in 2008 with his game ‘Imagination is the only escape’ which he had developed for Nintendo and which looked at the events of the Holocaust through the eyes of a child. The gaming giant eventually rejected to market the game because it was deemed unfit for children, according to the ‘New York Times’.
Now Bernard announced that he would raise funds online with a plan to release the game next year, according to a report by the news website ‘The Verge’. Bernard’s mother is Jewish and his grandmother in Britain looked after orphaned Jewish children after World War II, he told the ‘New York Times’.
The game features a young boy named Samuel during the Nazi occupation of France in 1942. When Jews are rounded up for deportation to the Nazi death camps, Samuel spends much of his time in a nearby forest, and retreats into his own mind to shield himself from the reality of what'is happening. In this fantasy world he befriends a talking fox named Renard who takes him on a series of adventures. Much of the game takes place in this fantasy realm, which Bernard believes will heighten the emotional impact of some of the more powerful scenes that take place in the real world. "Every time reality comes back, it sort of just slaps you in the face."
The developer, who grew up in France, told ‘The Verge’ that the game was meant to inspire players to read more on the history of the Holocaust.


Confusion over Iranian leaders' Twitter messages to Jews

WJC, Twitter messages that appeared to have been issued by newly-elected Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, wishing Jews a good Rosh Hashanah, have been met with mixed reactions by the international community.
On Wednesday, the eve of Rosh Hashanah, a message was posted on Rouhani's English-language Twitter account where he wished all Jews a happy Jewish New Year. “As the sun is about to set here in Tehran I wish all Jews, especially Iranian Jews, a blessed Rosh Hashanah,” the tweet read. A day later, as the message was analyzed abroad and in Iran, the semiofficial Fars news agency quoted a Rouhani aide as saying that the account was no longer active. That appeared to be a dodge, especially since the same account was also used Thursday to announce the change in Iran’s nuclear negotiating team.
In only his second tweet, Iran's new Foreign Minister Javad Zarif wished Jews a "Happy Rosh Hashanah." Zarif even replied to a tweet from Christine Pelosi, the daughter of US House of Representatives Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, who said to him: "Thanks. The New Year would be even sweeter if you would end Iran's Holocaust denial, sir" by distancing himself from Iran's former leader Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Zarif first tweeted "The man who did is now gone," but then deleted that post and replied again to clarify: "The man who was perceived to be denying [the Holocaust] is now gone." The foreign minister confirmed to CNN that he did write those tweets and was aware he was responding to Nancy Pelosi's daughter. Rouhani also retweeted Zarif's "Happy Rosh Hashanah" post.
Access to Twitter is officially banned for most Iranians.
World Jewish Congress President Ronald Lauder said that while the Iranian leaders' message were "a surprising gesture and a welcome change in tone", “words are meaningless if they are not backed up by credible actions. Until Iran ends its support for the enemies of the Jewish state, until it stops providing support to terrorist groups targeting Israeli and Jewish targets worldwide, and a regime that is gassing thousands of its own citizens in order to remain in power, these words sound hollow.”
Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he was "not impressed", and that the Iranian regime would "be judged only by its actions and not by greetings" whose purpose, he said, was to deflect attention from its nuclear program. He called on the international community to strengthen sanctions on Iran meant to curb its nuclear activities.


Jewish Diplomatic Corps to rejoin World Jewish Congress

The Jewish Diplomatic Corps (JDCorps), an international network of Jewish professionals engaged in public diplomacy, will be reintegrated into the structure of the World Jewish Congress (WJC) and see its global budget and staff boosted. The corps’ precursor was set up in 2006 under the auspices of Peleg Reshef of the WJC. Today, the network comprises 130 young Jewish lay leaders from 30 countries world-wide.
“This is a major investment into the future of Jewish organizational leadership. The Jewish Diplomats, or JDs, as they are called, are successful professionals in their late twenties or thirties who identify with Jewish and Israel-related issues. They will continue to play an important role in addressing the issues affecting the Jewish people in the future. The entire WJC family welcomes the fact that the JDs will from now on be a key part of the WJC’s organization. They have proven over the past years that they are capable of influencing important policy decisions, including at the United Nations, and we look forward to complementing the WJC’s activities with these talents,” said WJC President Ronald Lauder.
JDCorps Chairman and Co-Founder Adam H. Koffler highlighted that the JDCorps will have staff led by current JDCorps Executive Director Michael Colson at the WJC’s Geneva office. “This is a terrific union and significant development both for the JDCorps and for the WJC. It will allow 130 highly skilled and motivated young professionals to become an integral part of the world’s foremost Jewish organization, and it will strengthen the WJC’s ability to fulfill its critical mission as the diplomatic arm of the Jewish people,” Koffler declared, adding: “As part of the WJC’s permanent program of activities, the Jewish Diplomatic Corps will continue to empower its members impacting diplomacy, public policy and advancing Jewish interests in international affairs, notably at the UN.”
The JDCorps will become a key part of the WJC’s new ‘Young Leadership’ bouquet of programs which includes the Jewish Professionals’ Network, the Global Campus Initiative and the Young Leadership Training Academy and it will be overseen from WJC headquarters in New York.
About the World Jewish Congress
The World Jewish Congress (WJC) is the international organization representing Jewish communities in 100 countries to governments, parliaments and international organizations. The WJC was founded in Geneva in 1936 as the diplomatic arm of the Jewish people.

About the Jewish Diplomatic Corps
The Jewish Diplomatic Corps (JDCorps) was established as an independent organization in 2009 by Co-Founders Adam H. Koffler and Peleg Reshef after being initiated in February 2006 by the WJC. It has since served as a world-wide, non-partisan network of diplomatic innovators advancing Jewish interests in international affairs and has actively engaged young lay leaders on issues vital to the Jewish people.


Warm wishes for a sweet New Year, Your friends at the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Philanthropic Network

Shana Tova

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This year, may we all find our inner go-getter,
resolving to make the world even better!

Warm wishes for a sweet New Year,
Your friends at the Charles and Lynn Schusterman
Philanthropic Network




The Charles and Lynn Schusterman Philanthropic Network is a global enterprise that supports and creates innovative initiatives for the purpose of igniting the passion and unleashing the power in young people tocreate positive change in their communities. SPN includes the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation, Schusterman Foundation-Israel, ROI Community and REALITY. 


The Power Of The Kotel Stones

By David Wiseman, The Israel Forever Foundation 

My grandmother is a week shy of her 98th birthday. She is the last remaining of my four grandparents and unfortunately, she hasn’t been feeling well recently and is now in the hospital.

The moment I heard the news, I decided to visit the Kotel (The Western Wall), since I’m blessed to live only minutes away in Jerusalem. So, after work I headed down and was met by those massive stones.
So, after work I headed down and was met by those massive stones.
As I surveyed the scene, I saw people of all ages. There are no atheists in these foxholes and I must say that it is very hard to find one at the Kotel. Most feel the power of the stones and from there, emotions are let loose.
If tears could melt stone, the Kotel wouldn’t be standing.

If hopes and dreams could make them fly, there would be a wall floating around somewhere in space.
One paradox about the Kotel is the concept of time. It is governed by time – the time to pray three times a day. The thousands who visit it on Shabbat and even more during the Chagim.

On the other hand, it is timeless. For thousands of years it hasn’t just been a physical landmark, but an emotional one. My grandmother was born in 1915. Israel didn’t come into existence until she was 32 and she was only 51 when Jerusalem was reunified.

Thankfully, she has been to the Kotel, but there will come a time when her journey will come to an end, like all of us. I’ve realized though, that our connection to Israel, the Jewish people – this connection is timeless. We’ve been exiled and scattered and despite being stretched to the four corners of the world, our hearts, thoughts and prayers have always aimed towards Jerusalem.

I’ve been lucky enough to visit the Kotel many times and every time I am overwhelmed by a cocktail of emotions – excitement, joy and a sense of ease. Every time I leave it is with a sense of remorse.

Farewells are never easy – not to the Kotel and especially not to a grandparent. But with the upcoming Jewish New Year, my next prayer at the Kotel will be that my beloved grandmother will be granted a Sweet New Year and inscribed in the Book of Life.

Is Your Jewish School Really Safe?

Is Your Jewish School Really Safe?

I want to inform you of a critical major initiative by the Chesed Fund Limited and Project Ezra of Greater Baltimore for Jewish schools throughout North America. A vital new guide, entitled Keep Your School Safe (KYSS), (KYSS) has been sent to all Jewish Schools, major organizations and is en route to all camps.


   Parents and community members can read and print the free KYSS guide now at The guide helps schools conduct a thorough security review to help them carefully evaluate and improve school safety. 

    The Keep Your School Safe guide includes sections on protection of school grounds, lockdown procedures, proper safety and security training for the teachers and staff, and other emergency preparedness measures. Keep Your School Safe has been recommended by organizations such as the Secure Community Network, Agudath Israel of America, National Council of Young Israel, Torah Umesorah and the Orthodox Union as an essential safety and security resource.  

   The initial print run of the KYSS guide is ten thousand copies. KYSS is intended for all Orthodox, Conservative, Reform, and Community Day schools.  A similar guide is being prepared for all public and private schools throughout North America.

   As a Security Consultant, Coordinator for CERT (the Community Emergency Response Team in Northern Park Heights, Baltimore) and an expert in security for over thirty-five years I felt that the Jewish community needs no further wake-up call than the tragedy last December in Newtown, CT; it is imperative to review and tighten school safety and security measures. 

   This guide is published in memory of the faculty and students of Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT, as well as the victims of the Boston Marathon terror attack.  

For more information and resources please visit For any questions or comments call 410-358-2525 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. "> This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

   As this critical initiative greatly impacts our children's safety I encourage you to forward this email to your contact list.

   Thank you,

   Frank Storch

Contact Us

Tel: 410-358-2525
Email:  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. "> This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

WJC ANALYSIS: The assault on shechita and the future of Jews in Europe

In recent months, debate regarding the banning of shechita and halal [slaughter in accordance with Jewish and Islamic law, respectively] has been renewed in a number of EU member states, most notably Poland. While some of those who support a reexamination of the issue are undoubtedly motivated by genuine concern for animal welfare, there may be less sanguine intentions on the part of others who advocate a ban (or the upholding of existing ones). Certainly, the vituperative language of at least some of the campaigners is hardly reassuring. Ironically, a common front on this issue may help bring Jews and Muslims in Europe closer together. The outcome of this debate may well be seen as a watershed in the history of European religious pluralism, one on which the future of Jewish religious life on the continent will depend.
The Jewish religion is deeply imbued with the concept of tza'ar ba'alei chaim — the idea that one may not intentionally inflict unnecessary pain on any living creature, nor fail to prevent the causing of such pain. This principle is the basis for the Jewish religious prohibition of hunting of any kind. As such, when it is necessary to kill animals (whether for food or hides, never for sport), they must be dispatched in the swiftest and most painless way possible.
"You shall slaughter of your cattle and sheep... as I have instructed you, and you may eat..." is the biblical imperative contained in the book of Deuteronomy (12:21). The rules governing the slaughter of animals in accordance with Jewish law are laid out in many sources, including — in considerable detail — in the seminal codification of Jewish law, Rabbi Joseph Caro's Shulchan Aruch [Yorah Deah], at chapters 1–28. The religiously mandated method of slaughtering kosher animals is to sever the trachea, the jugular veins, the esophagus and the carotid arteries — all in one swift cut.
Almost 1,000 years ago, the great Jewish scholar and physician Maimonides closely studied the issue of animal slaughter and came to the conclusion that there is no more humane method than through the rapid loss of blood following a swift incision with a razor-sharp knife in the hands of a qualified slaughterer [shochet]. To date, not a single scientific study has conclusively proven otherwise, and over the years many prominent experts, both Jews and non-Jews, have validated shechita as a humane means of slaughter.
The pioneering research in the scientific defense of shechita was that penned by the physician Isaac A. Dembo (1847–1906). His major contribution was to demonstrate that shechita does not cause more pain to animals than any other technique and that, in fact, it causes considerably less pain than the other commonly used methods.
Dembo's work was continued in modern times by I. M. Levinger, who is a leading authority on veterinary issue in Jewish dietary laws. Levinger attempted "to define the loss of sensibility and the time of death by measuring the corneal reflexes, the drop in blood, carotid and vertebral arterial pressure, and the heart rate and respiratory rate using the best available instrumentation."
The most recent research has proven that by using the proper slaughter apparatus (with the cow standing upright with a properly designed head restraint) and with proper handling, the cow is apparently unaware of the throat being cut and collapses in 10 to 15 seconds. Moreover, the rise in cortisol levels in head-restrained animals was minimal."
Temple Grandin, professor of Animal Science at Colorado State University, has designed livestock handling facilities in Europe, North America, Australia, and elsewhere. In 2011, she wrote: “I have observed that when kosher slaughter of cattle is done well, there is almost no reaction from the animal when the throat is cut. Flicking my hand near the animal’s face caused a bigger reaction.”
Nevertheless, there are those who, out of genuine concern for animal welfare, or because of adherence to an anti-Semitic or anti-Muslim agenda, have raised questions about the humanity of this means of slaughter.
New wine in old bottles?
The campaign against shechita is nothing new. In 1933, almost immediately after being named chancellor, Adolf Hitler decreed a ban on the practice—at once depriving the Jews of Germany of kosher meat and also putting out of business those who worked in the country's kosher meat industry. Such a law had already been enacted in Bavaria in 1930. Significantly, the infamous 1940 Nazi 'documentary' film Der ewige Jude [The Eternal Jew], designed to sow hatred of Jews, contained a gruesome scene that utterly distorted the way in which animals are killed in accordance with Jewish law—and depicted the practice as a barbarous custom in which Jews rejoice at the suffering of animals.
However, opposition to shechita pre-dates the Nazi period. Switzerland's legislation prohibiting shechita was enacted in 1893 when the practice was outlawed by a plebiscite. Sweden followed suit in 1937 and Fascist Italy in 1938. In the late 1930s, there were also moves to restrict shechita in Poland, but they did not come to fruition. Generally, Jews in countries in which shechita is outlawed (Norway among them) have been able to avoid the most drastic effects of the law, because they are able to import meat from abroad.
However, there are even some (in Switzerland, for example) who would like to see a ban on the import of kosher meat — which will effectively force Jews who observe kashrut to abstain from the consumption of meat. Muslims will also be affected by this move. The halal method of slaughter has certain similarities to that of shechita, and in locations in which halal meat is unavailable, Muslims content themselves with kosher products.
The anti-shechita drive in Poland comes at a time when similar moves are being contemplated in other parts of Europe as well — even in countries that had debated the subject long ago, and had previously refrained from enacting any restrictions against it. It is ironic that in some instances, the current motivation for advocacy against shechita/halal stems from local hostility toward the burgeoning Muslim communities in Europe. Be that as it may, whatever their other differences, Jews and Muslims will be left to fight this battle together.
Poland: The latest testing ground
In recent months, there has been a revival of the long-dormant debate in Poland on whether animals must be stunned before being killed. Article 53 of the Polish Constitution guarantees that "freedom of conscience and religion shall be ensured to everyone" and specifies that the "performing of [religious] rites" is protected by law.
Jewish religious law forbids the stunning of animals before slaughter. However, the Constitutional Tribunal disallowed the exception made by the minister of agriculture not to require stunning for religious slaughter (after a 2002 law which required stunning). A court ruling determined that in so doing, the minister had overstepped his authority. The court also clearly stated that they are not ruling of religious slaughter.
Although the government declared its intention to pass a law to permit religious slaughter, that effort failed in parliament on July 12, 2013. That move precipitated widespread upset and anger both in Poland and abroad. Significantly, the Polish agro-industrial lobby led the unsuccessful struggle to rescind the ban. Over the years, the Polish meatpacking industry, particularly the beef sector, has become heavily dependent on exports of kosher and halal products to Israel and the Middle East. That industry employs thousands of workers and brings in hundreds of millions of euros per annum. In the Sejm vote, some parliamentarians from the ruling party, which called for rescinding the ban, actually voted to support it.
Critics of the ban, both Jews and non-Jews, could not contain their sense of indignation, especially when some actually suggested that shechita was a foreign concept, not in keeping with traditional Polish values. They pointed to the thousand-year history of Jews on Polish soil and the irony that those who called for a ban on Jewish/Muslim methods of slaughter continue to allow the destruction of animals for sport.
For example, Jonathan Ornstein, director of the Jewish Community Center in Krakow, himself a committed vegetarian, said he finds it “hard to believe that any reasonably intelligent, thinking person could hold the opinion that ritual slaughter, as practiced by Jews, is worthy of being singled out as particularly cruel to animals and therefore should be banned.” He went on to say that he could not “accept the idea that in a country where you can go out and hunt for pleasure, also something expressly forbidden in Judaism, a country where you can take a live carp home in a plastic bag and allow it to slowly suffocate as you wait in line at the supermarket checkout before Christmas, [Parliament] should outlaw a form of killing which was devised thousands of years ago to be humane.”
At the time of this writing, Poland’s Jewish community plans to petition the country’s constitutional court in an effort to strike down the Sejm decision upholding the ban. Chief “Many legal experts believe that the only way to resolve the conflict between the law and the rights of Poland’s religious communities is by petitioning the Constitutional Court and letting it rule on the matter. We will express our position in a most determined fashion and will bring most of the evidence from the Polish Constitution, which supports our position,” declared Poland's chief rabbi, Michael Schudrich.
Many Jews and Muslims fear that the decision in the Sejm could presage a new struggle against the rights of Jews and Muslims to observe the sacred tenets of their faith. In the Netherlands, an attempt to restrict the right of Jews to slaughter animals in accordance with shechita was staved off. The Dutch minister of agriculture, issued instructions that allow the Jewish community to continue the practice of shechita. These instructions included the introduction of a requirement that the incision be performed within a three-second period. A previous ruling limiting the number of movements of the knife has been abandoned. This issue was also played out in Britain some years ago, but in the end the Anglo-Jewish and Muslim communities were permitted to continue the practice.
'Ritual' slaughter
Part of the problem, at least in the public debate in Poland, stems from the nomenclature: the very use of the word 'ritual' [rytualny] attached to slaughter [ubój]. The idea that the slaughter of animals is a religious 'rite' makes it easy to suggest that it is a part of an antiquated, cruel and even savage custom — and that it should be dispensed with in modern society. Opponents of shechita and halal have often attributed a sinister connotation to the two forms of religiously prescribed slaughter.
Given the declining level of Christian religious observance in Europe, there is less and less tolerance for those who adhere to religious law — especially when it is depicted in such negative terms. It will remain a challenge to Jews and Muslims to overcome this insidious connection between religious rite and cruelty to animals in their attempts to lobby to preserve their rights.
European Union regulations have stipulated that all farm animals must be stunned before slaughter (a practice, which, as noted above, is strictly forbidden by Jewish religious law) unless they are killed in accordance with religious methods, such as shechita or halal.
There is considerable misunderstanding about the effects of stunning animals prior to their slaughter. While stunning an animal may well be preferable to allowing it to experience the pain inflicted by most non-kosher means of slaughter, there is doubt as to whether the same is true with regard to shechita. In fact, the knife (sharp as a surgical scalpel) applied by the shochet across the throat may by itself be regarded as a form of stunning because the animal is rendered unconscious at once. And the risk of imperfect stunning is a very real one, which may cause considerable agony to the animal. Rabbinical authorities who have studied the question believe that stunning before slaughter can actually inflict injuries on the animal severe enough to render it unfit for consumption by those who adhere to Jewish dietary laws.
This is because one requirement for kosher meat is that the animal must have had no physical defects before it was slaughtered, and these rabbis saw the injuries caused by stunning as being significant enough to make an animal non-kosher according to this requirement.
Significantly, certain Muslim abattoirs do comply with the regulation regarding pre-stunning and allow for animals destined for slaughter to be stunned electrically. Still, there is considerable debate in Islamic circles as to whether or not this practice is acceptable or not. More progressive Muslims are less likely to protest if some of their religious leaders allow for stunning. But what is especially worrisome to those who are committed to upholding the rights of Jews and Muslims is the high degree of standardization that the EU imposes on its member states.
In other words, it is likely that as EU standardization becomes more widespread, and given the tendency toward limitations, questions will be raised in many EU states about the viability of existing legislation allowing for exemptions to Jews and Muslims.
A debate with far-reaching consequences
After the Polish parliament's decision, World Jewish Congress President Ronald S. Lauder, who pioneered the revival of Jewish life in post-Communist countries, wrote in an op-ed: "I am left wondering: Can the Jewish renaissance in the heart of Europe continue if essential elements of Jewish life are declared illegal? Or will Europe’s leaders stand up for the civil rights of their Jewish compatriots? As Pinchas Goldschmidt, president of the Conference of European Rabbis, recently remarked, you cannot be proud of the Jews of yesterday and tell the Jews of today that their religious practices are not welcome any more."
There is no doubt that the resolution of the debate on shechita will affect the quality of life of millions of Jews and Muslims across Europe and will have far-reaching effects on the rights of religious minorities to live according to the precepts of their faith.
Rabbi Schudrich, who has worked in Poland for close to a quarter of a century, has said that he could not imagine serving as chief rabbi in a country in which the rights of the Jewish religion are curtailed, as he would not be able to serve his co-religionists properly. This is an especially poignant declaration by someone who played a great role in the extraordinary revival of Jewish life. Indeed, until not that long ago people had every reason to believe that the final chapter in the long history of Polish Jewry had come to a close.
Today, many Jews, whether in Poland or other countries, including those who do not themselves observe the Jewish dietary laws have rallied around this issue, because they see it as a clear test of their society's commitment to uphold civil and religious rights. One can only hope that their non-Jewish neighbors see it in similar terms.


Lauder: March of the Living proves 'Hitler did not win'


Lauder told the gathering: "Seeing so many young people from around the world - both Jewish and of many other faiths and backgrounds - fills me with a feeling of hope for the future of the Jewish people and hope for all humanity"

World Jewish Congress President Ronald S. Lauder was among the leaders of this year's March of the Living at the former Nazi death camp Auschwitz. An estimated 11,000 people from dozens of countries, most of them under the age of 25, participated. The marchers walked the three-kilometer (1.9 mile) distance from the former Auschwitz concentration camp (StammlagerI) to Birkenau, where 1.1 million Jews were systematically murdered in gas chambers by the Nazis during World War II.
There, Lauder told the gathering: "Seeing so many young people from around the world - both Jewish and of many other faiths and backgrounds - fills me with a feeling of hope for the future of the Jewish people and hope for all humanity. Auschwitz symbolizes the depths humanity can reach - but every time young people like yourselves make their way to these tear soaked grounds, listen to the stories of survivors, and pledge to build a better world, I know with certainty, one thing: Hitler did not win."
Lauder condemned the growing tide of anti-Semitism and anti-Israel sentiment and ended his speech with 'Am Yisrael Chai'.
The march traditionally takes place annually on Yom HaShoah, Israel's Holocaust remembrance day. This year's edition marked the event's 25th anniversary. Israel's delegation was led by IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz.
More than 150,000 people have participated in the March of the Living over the past years. On Monday, participants from 42 countries came to the sites; most of them between the ages of 16 and 21. For many it was the first time that they wee directly confronted with places of the Nazi genocide.
Ahead of the March of the Living, Israel's President Shimon Peres had sent a message to the participants: "There are marches which are measured by the length of the journey, there are marches which are measured by time. You came on a march which cannot be compared, it is a march from the lowest point to the highest peak. The lowest point is the actions of the Nazis. There was no atrocity like it in history," Peres said.

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