Rabbi Pinchas Goldschmidt, President of the Conference of European Rabbis, is in Jerusalem to speak about the relocation to Germany of the Conference of European Rabbis' headquarters.

He tells Israel National News that the new headquarters will also hold seminars and conferences for the over 800 rabbis from Europe and their wives and also host meetings with community leaders.

“We are at a new beginning concerning rabbinical work,” Rabbi Goldschmidt says.

Explaining the role of a rabbi today in Europe, he mentions that it’s more than just answering religious questions, they also take on the role of community leaders, especially in smaller communities in which there are no Jewish community presidents or professionals.

“In smaller communities, what you have is there's no institutional memory, the presidents know very little, there is no secular director of the community, and actually the rabbi is the only Jewish professional, which makes his work much more important, much more crucial for the survival of a Jewish community.”

According to the rabbi, the challenge for Jewish communities in Europe is twofold: assimilation and the fear of terrorist attacks.

"Since the great wave of terrorist attacks against Jewish communities in Western Europe, many have decided it's too dangerous to come to communal events,” he says. “However, we know that many European Jews today have very strong family ties and cultural ties to Israel.”

He adds that thousands of Israelis come to live and study in Europe.

“Many Israelis, especially the secular ones, while they were in Israel, were not tied into a Jewish community in Israel. However, if you live outside of Israel, you have to do something actively Jewish in order to remain Jewish. So this is the challenge to involve and to affiliate all those Jews who came from Israel inside the Jewish community.”

While in Israel, Rabbi Goldschmidt is speaking to different dignitaries, requesting that Israel does more in the field of fighting antisemitism in Europe and increasing the connection between Israel and the diaspora in Europe, especially in the field of Jewish education, which he calls “crucial for the survival of a Jewish community.”

“Our Fate and our faith are also tied to what is happening in Israel. If you look at the statistics, the moment there’s a flare-up in the security situation in Israel, the more antisemitic attacks occur in Europe, in France, and in Belgium. So for better and for worse, our faith is tied to what is happening in Israel, and we would like very much that Israeli leaders should know that and take this into account when decisions are being taken,” he says.

He praises the Israeli government for helping diaspora communities with security.

“The Israeli government is very much involved in helping Jewish communities to secure their buildings,” he says. “They’re sending advisors to advise the Jewish communities, and the Jewish communities work with the local law enforcement as well as with Israeli advisors.”

While he mentions the situation for European communities is far from perfect, he is optimistic that life is improving for European Jews in recent times.

“We have to look at the reality, not everything is bad,” he says, giving the example of the creation in the last few years of Europol, the European Union Agency for Law Enforcement Cooperation, which is now the law enforcement agency of the European Union.

He explains: “When security agencies of the different countries start to work together and exchange information when the extradition of terrorist suspects became much faster, it used to take a year, but now takes a few days, we see that the security situation of the Jewish community has improved in the few last few years in Europe."

He points out that another sign of new confidence is the opening this year in Paris of two new community centers.

“They used to talk about France, the last Jew should not forget to turn off the lights,” he says. “Today, I see in France with all the tens of thousands who made aliya to Israel, and that's beautiful, but I see a new confidence in the community over there.”