Ahead of a historic world conference, top Jewish and Swedish leaders joined the Malmö Synagogue today to celebrate the history and life of the local Jewish community, especially its resistance during a period of increased anti-Semitism in the region.
The synagogue event, organized by the World Jewish Congress, together with the Official
The Council of Swedish Jewish Communities and the Jewish Community of Malmö, was held the day before October 13 Malmö International Forum on Holocaust Remembrance and Combating Anti-Semitism.
The international forum, which will be attended by heads of state or government of some 50 countries, will focus on identifying and implementing concrete steps to counter anti-Semitism and other forms of hatred and promote education and remembrance of the Holocaust.
WJC President Ronald S. Lauder, Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Löfven and Jewish community leaders shared their thoughts at Tuesday’s synagogue meeting on the rich history of Sweden’s Jews and next steps in the fight against the current expressions of hatred against Jews at the local and national level. levels.
In his comments at the synagogue, Amb. Lauder said:
“I have been dealing with anti-Semitism since I became involved in the Jewish world. That is most of my adult life. I have witnessed it, I have spoken with too many victims of anti-Semitism. I have also been the target of that. I’ve seen people lose their lives … because they turned out to be Jewish. “
Amb. Lauder also said: “I am aware that a fair and reasonable agreement must be found with the Palestinian people. I’ve been looking for a two-state solution for years and have never given up on this idea. Two states for two is the only way this long conflict will finally come to a just conclusion. “
He added: “All schoolchildren must learn about the Holocaust and understand how it came about and where hatred ultimately leads.” He continued to advocate for a national holiday on January 27, the day Auschwitz was liberated in 1945, for schools around the world to teach about the Holocaust.
“There is still much left to do. I am not naive; I realize that the hatred of Jews has been with us for 2000 years and will never completely go away. But we can do everything in our power to prevent this virus from spreading. We applaud the Swedish Prime Minister and the government for taking the first steps. And I thank you for your help with the Jewish community here to protect their synagogues, their school, and their people. ”Amb. Lauder concluded.
In recent years, anti-Semitism has occurred regularly in Malmö, Sweden’s third-largest city, especially in its schools, and has gained international attention. Sweden’s top leaders have committed to devoting resources to democracy-strengthening initiatives in schools and other educational settings. At the end of March 2022, the country will assume the presidency of the International Alliance for Holocaust Remembrance and has committed to opening the Swedish Holocaust Museum by July 2022.
“This week we gather here in Malmö to remember the darkest chapter in history, the darkest chapter in humanity,” Löfven said. “It didn’t take place on Swedish soil; however, when Jews began to leave Germany after 1933, most countries, including Sweden, were reluctant to accept more than a handful of Jewish refugees. “
He also said: “Every lit Shabbat candle, every song in Yiddish or Ladino, and every Swedish Jew who wears a kippah or a Star of David with pride is a stance against hatred.”
Dr. Nachman Shai, Israel’s Minister for Diaspora Affairs, told the audience that Israel stands behind the Malmö Jewish community.
“It is the right of every Jewish individual to live a full and proud Jewish life wherever they choose,” he said. “In addition, he must have the opportunity to have relations with Israel proudly and actively … without being questioned.”
Ann Katina, President of the Malmö Jewish Community, presided over the ceremony while discussing the vibrant history of Jewish life in Malmö. The community will celebrate its 150th anniversary next month.
“Jewish life in Sweden is more than anti-Semitism,” Katina said, adding that a Jewish learning center will be opened in the synagogue “with the aim of increasing awareness of Jewish culture, religion, history, the Holocaust and anti-Semitism. ” He joined Aron Verständig, President of the Official Council of Swedish Jewish Communities, thanking the local community for their support and dedication to education.
Immediately after the forum closed on October 13, Amb. Lauder and Prime Minister Löfven will join a Holocaust survivor representing the Malmö Jewish community to reflect on the proceedings and continue the conversation on how to end anti-Semitism. Media wishing to attend this event must already have credentials to attend the Malmö forum.
Following Wednesday’s conference, the WJC’s International Meeting of Special Envoys and Coordinators to Combat Anti-Semitism (SECCA) will meet to exchange views, share best practices and policies, and assess progress in the shared fight against anti-Semitism. The SECCA forum is made up of officials charged with combating anti-Semitism, with participants from dozens of countries and organizations such as the European Commission, the International Alliance for Holocaust Remembrance, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, and the United Nations. .
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