Rosh Hashanah message by Frans Timmermans, First Vice-President of the European Commission

On behalf of the European Commission, I would like to extend my warmest greetings to all Jewish Europeans, their friends and families, and Jews around the world when you welcome the year 5780.

May you celebrate Erev Rosh Hashana surrounded by your loved ones and enjoy blessed High Holidays. The enduring traditions of Rosh Hashanah remind us of the deep values of Judaism and allow us to celebrate its remarkable heritage and contribution to our continent. Europe would be different without Sigmund Freud, Albert Einstein or Simone Veil, while Judaism would be poorer without Maimonides or Raschi, Theodor Herzl or Golda Meir.

Each Jewish community, orthodox or liberal, Ashkenazi or Sephardi, has its own unique characteristics, diverse indeed but also united in strength, rich heritage and inspiring community life. Europe’s Jewish communities are as diverse as Europe itself. Rosh Hashana gives us the chance to assess the state of the continent: challenges such as climate change, social inequality and the next technological revolution test our values and our resolve. In an uncertain world, Europe must take the lead in defending universal values.

The coming year will remind us of the 75th anniversary of the end of the Shoah and the liberation of the Nazi death camp Auschwitz-Birkenau which I visited earlier this year on Holocaust Memorial Day. I was fortunate to speak to hundreds of young people about the lessons we should heed, and the responsibility we all must bear. We will also commemorate 30 years since the fall of the Berlin Wall leading to the end of the Communist regimes, which is concomitantly the liberation of Jewish life beyond the Iron curtain and the unification of Europe.

Most importantly, we have to cherish, nourish, and defend our democracies. We know that where extremism flourishes, the poison of antisemitism is not far away. Based on our own terrible history of the Shoah we have a special responsibility to tackle it wherever it rears its head. I am glad we were able to bring the topic of antisemitism to the informal plenary of the UN General Assembly, acknowledging that antisemitism and hatred must be fought around the world.

Jewish Europeans rightfully take pride in their Jewish identity, in particular young Jewish Europeans. It is essential for an open and tolerant Europe that Jewish voices are heard and Jewish life can flourish.

I wish you and all your family Shana Tova U’Metukah.

Yours sincerely,
Frans Timmermans


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