Sunday, May 1, 2016

Belgium: As Jews flee Belgium, a seder marks a family exodus

Cnaan Liphshiz writes @ JTA:
Anti-Israel demonstration in Brussels
I was feeling nervous about coming to Brussels for seder with my family.   Making the 130-mile trip there from my home in Amsterdam meant taking my 5-month-old son on a train that last year saw an attempted jihadist attack, and into a city that is still reeling and on alert from the March 22 Islamist bombings that killed 32 people.  [...]

My family’s “Echad Mi Yodea” this year was a shadow of its former self in what I suddenly realized was a vivid illustration of the absence of relatives from my age group who, like many Belgian Jews, have left their native country because of its anti-Semitism problem. With each passing year, there were fewer of us around the seder table.

My Belgian relatives have said goodbye to nine young seder rioters over the past 15 years. Six enlisted in the Israel Defense Forces and made aliyah. Two immigrated to the United States and one moved to London.

I came to Brussels this year because this seder was the sendoff for a second cousin and his wife, a physician and an architect, who are moving to Florida. His sister and her Belgian Jewish husband already live there.

“This is my last seder as a European,” cousin Mark (not his real name) told me over the phone. We spoke in Hebrew, a language learned by all my Belgian relatives my age at the insistence of aunts and uncles who were born to Holocaust survivors and who always regarded aliyah as a contingency plan in case things went south in Belgium.

“I want you to be there to send me off from slavery to freedom,” Mark said.

He feared for the future of his own two children in a country where Jewish schools are under heavy military guard and where Jewish students are being forced out of public schools because of anti-Semitic bullying.
“Things are bad here and I want a better future for my children,” he told me.

I asked Joel Rubinfeld, the founder of the Belgian League Against Anti-Semitism and a former president of the CCOJB umbrella of group of French-speaking Belgian Jewish communities, whether my family was unusual when it came to its emigration agenda.

“I’m afraid not,” he said. “There is the beginning of an expedited emigration process. Our only statistical view on it is through aliyah, which tells a very partial story in a community with highly educated members who can settle anywhere in Europe and have little trouble getting visas to the U.S., Canada and Australia.”

In 2014, Rubinfeld warned Belgian Jewry was seeing an “exodus” because of anti-Semitism.

Last year, 287 Jews immigrated to Israel from Belgium, which has a Jewish population of about 40,000. It was the highest figure recorded in a decade. From 2010 to 2015, an average of 234 Belgian Jews made aliyah annually — a 56 percent increase over the annual average of 133 new arrivals from Belgium in 2005-2009, according to Israeli government data.  [...]

“Europe is doomed. The bad guys won,” she said. “I’m not going to raise my children in fear just to make a point.” 
 read more

No comments :

Post a Comment