Rabbis from across Europe take self defence class after anti-Semitic attacks

Organisers accused politicians of not doing enough to protect Jewish citizens

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The Independent Online

Rabbis from across Europe gathered in Prague this week for a conference which included self-defence and first aid training, in response to a recent spike in anti-Semitic attacks on the continent.

The lesson at the annual gathering of rabbis, organised by the Rabbinical Centre of Europe and the European Jewish Association, came after a deadly terror attack against a kosher grocery in Paris in January and the murder of a Jewish security guard outside a synagogue in Copenhagen earlier this month.

To start the training session, rabbis were handed knives, before they were instructed how to survive an attack and how to treat wounds.

“When we see the level of anti-Semitism in Europe, when we see the level of hate in Europe, when we see the lack of leadership of European governments to fight against anti-Semitism and terror, we're not surprised, unfortunately (by the attacks),” Rabbi Menachem Margolin, head of the European Jewish Association told the Associated Press.

He said the idea was to demonstrate “the most basic stuff needed.”


Margolin blamed a lack of action from European governments to protect Jews in Europe for their decision to organise the training, first in Prague, and later in other European countries.

“We've urged the European countries to do something and we did not get a real response from them,” Margolin said, adding all Jewish institutions in Europe should be protected by police 24 hours a day.

He said that if police officers are not able to provide protection, guards appointed by Jewish organisations to protect Jewish sites should be allowed to be armed.

Binyomin Jacobs, chief rabbi in the Netherlands, welcomed the training.

“It's very important,” the 66-year-old said. “I'm very happy with this. Happy and sad that it is necessary.”

Last month, a YouGov poll of more than 2,200 British Jews commissioned by the Campaign Against Antisemitism found that more than half of British Jews feel they have witness more anti-Semitism in the past two years than they have witness before.

Additional reporting by