In light of the precarious security situation and the attacks targeting Jews in Europe, Israel’s Chief Rabbi David Lau met with a group of envoys to the European Union and called upon them to exert their influence to prevent attacks on Jews in Europe and to increase security and protection for Jews in countries where they feel threatened.

The meeting took place as part of the Chief Rabbi’s special visit to the Jewish communities of Belgium and Holland, which was initiated by the Rabbinical Centre of Europe. Rabbi Lau visited communities in Western Europe, meeting with Jews who are maintaining Jewish life in locations where Jewish communities have been active for centuries. They spoke to him about the enormous challenges they are facing, and he promised to work to improve security for them.

At the unique meeting, which took place in the EU Jewish Buildings in Brussels, Rabbi Lau met with dozens of envoys from many countries on the continent. He shared with them his impressions from his visits to the Jewish communities in Belgium and Holland. “I call upon you to serve as ambassadors for world Jewry,” said the Rav, “and to bring the message of Jews, wherever they may be, to the leaders of your respective countries. Wherever I went, the Jews of Europe approached me with the same request – to ensure their continued existence in the large European cities, and to ensure their personal security.”

The Rav spoke of his own distinguished ancestry and implored the envoys, “as a scion of a family of Rabbanim from Europe, I turn to you with a heartfelt request: Please, allow us, the Jewish people, to continue to walk the streets of European cities in authentic Jewish garb, which has remained unchanged for hundreds of years. It is simply unacceptable that a Jew would be afraid to walk down the streets of European cities wearing a kippah and tzitzis.”

The Rav expressed his opposition to the stand of extremist politicians in Europe who are calling for legislation that would prohibit wearing a kippah and tzitzis. “The freedom that exists in Europe enables every individual to live a free life, without others dictating to him how he should dress,” the Rav told the ambassadors. “I would recommend that you take a look at how Israel conducts herself in these times and follow her example. While a bitter civil war is going on in Syria, Israel makes every effort to help the refugees and those wounded in the war. Israeli hospitals admit the wounded and treat them, showing no distinction between people of any particular group or gender. You will find Israeli hospital wards filled with Jews, Muslims and Christians together. We hope that the European countries will act similarly, treating all individuals with the respect they deserve, simply because they are human.

In conclusion, the Rav said, “We ask that the governments of Europe increase security in the Jewish communities of many countries on the continent. I turn to you and ask that you convey my message to the leaders of Europe, so that they will work to ensure that a Jew, wherever he may be, will not fear to step out of his house. We must all contemplate how we have allowed such a situation in which, in the year 2016, a Jew is afraid to leave his house wearing a kippah. It is up to you, and the task of making the Jews of Europe feel secure lies in your hands.

Over the course of his visit, planned by the RCE, Rabbi Lau will meet other community leaders in various European countries. Members of the RCE who are accompanying the Rav related that he was most touched by his meetings with the Jews of the more remote cities of Western Europe, and he promised to speak on their behalf and to serve as their representative in their struggles to deal with the difficulties European Jewry has been facing in recent years.