European Parliament president David Sassoli told the Conference of European Rabbis (CER), the primary rabbinical alliance in Europe, on Wednesday that amid “the devastating rise of terrorist attacks in many European nations … we must remain united against religious discrimination.”

Sassoli, who was the keynote speaker during CER’s winter Standing Committee meeting via Zoom, said “we need to invest in greater equality and justice. Too many of our cities are stained with blood. These tragic events remind us once again that the health and economic crisis is not the only crisis that we need to address. … Every attack is an attack on our values. We need to work more for the safety of our Jewish communities. Feelings of discrimination against the Jewish people continue to linger on, and this is totally unacceptable.”

Sassoli finished his speech by declaring: “The European Union must set an example to those who want to defy us. Freedom of religion is a founding value of Europe. The contribution of the Jewish people is the contribution to the greater good of Europe.”

The European Jewish community came under attack earlier this month in Vienna, where gunmen opened fire near a synagogue and Jewish community center.

In a statement, CER president Rabbi Pinchas Goldschmidt said “the fundamental question revolved around how European governments and institutions can better protect Jewish communities in Europe, especially since the devastating attacks in Austria and France only recently. Coupled with the global health crisis, these are extremely testing times. The Conference of European Rabbis wants to instill a much-needed sense of security into the communities that we represent and ensure that they are able to carry out religious practices in a safe and free manner.”

Other agenda items included the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on religious communities and restrictions on worship, including bans on religious slaughter, circumcision and limits to religious dress.

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