If one goal of terrorism is to deny a free people basic rights, then count it as successful, at least where European Jews are concerned.
As reported recently by the Jerusalem Post, some 70 percent of Jews – nearly three-quarters – are going to sit out attending synagogue during shul on High Holy Days over fears of possible terrorist attacks, and this despite increased security in Jewish communities.
A poll that was published online recently revealing the 70 percent figure has nonetheless been met with skepticism by prominent Jewish leaders, even though the continent has been rocked by terrorist attacks that have killed hundreds, especially in France.
The survey was conducted online by the European Jewish Association in conjuction with the Rabbinical Center of Europe. The 78 respondents, the EJA says, were a representative sampling of the 700 capital cities and communities throughout Europe, from Britain to Ukraine.
Pollsters claimed that while the number of respondents was far fewer than the number of communities represented, each one speaks for many communities. They compared the respondent rate with certain cities and regions that have many similarities with a number of similar communities.
The survey’s margin of error was 4.9 percent.
In the poll, participants were queried as to whether there was an increase or decrease in the number of registered people in Jewish communities as compared with 2015. They were also asked if there was an increase or decrease in the number of Jewish adherents who were going to attend synagogue on the High Holy Days as compared to the previous year. The poll also asked them to gauge their level of concern about the increase in antisemitism in their communities and if security had been increased at Jewish centers and institutes in the community following a rise in terrorism across Europe over the past year.
The poll found:
- About half of Jewish communities throughout the European continent said there had been a drop in the number of active members, while just 11 percent said they believe there had been an increase, and 39 percent reported no change;
- Eight in 10 respondents said they are concerned about rising antisemitism in their home countries;
- Three-quarters of respondents, or 75 percent, said they witnessed an increase in security in Jewish communities taken by their respective governments.
General director of the EJA and the Rabbinical Center of Europe, Rabbi Menachem Margolin, said the poll results came as antisemitism increased since High Holy Days were observed and celebrated last year. He added that the vast majority of community leaders have reported an increase in security consisting of military and police presence near Jewish schools, synagogues and other institutions.
He told The Jerusalem Post that while other factors do come into play, such as secularization, a comparison with previous years shows that security concerns were the primary reason, as attacks have increased.