To begin the second day of the Conference of European Rabbis (CER) in Toulouse on Thursday, delegates joined members of the local community in a memorial ceremony marking the Hebrew date (Iyar 26) of Victory Europe Day.
The ceremony focused on the over 1.25 million Jewish servicemen who fought during World War II, including the 250,000 who lost their lives in battle against Nazi Germany.
The President of CER and Chief Rabbi of Moscow, Rabbi Pinchas Goldschmidt, spoke movingly at the ceremony.
“On the 8th of May when the Jews came out of hiding there was no time to cry, we were in survival mode, creating a new existence for ourselves. That was the time to build."
"Today," Goldschmidt asserted, "70 years on, where we have rebuilt our communities, we are still crying over those who gave their lives as soldiers. They fought to ensure Jewish life can exist in a free Europe.”
Drawing a parallel between the Jewish servicemen who fought to end the Holocaust and contemporary Jewish leaders working against anti-Semitism in Europe, Goldschmidt stressed CER needed allies.
“Bad things happen because good people don’t stand up," Goldschmidt declared. "Just as Jewish servicemen stood up for our future we need to understand that it is the future of Europe that it is at stake."
"The CER is here because we believe in the future of European Jewry in Europe, French Jewry in France and Toulouse Jewry in Toulouse," Goldschmidt proclaimed. “We need allies, and we need to fight together to overcome the challenges that are in front of us.”
Also speaking at the ceremony were Vice President of the CER and Chief Rabbi of France, Rabbi Haim Korsia; Ashkenazic Chief Rabbi of Israel, Rabbi David Lau; World War II serviceman Eli Buzon, and Director of the Jewish Memorial Day Foundation, German Zakhariev.