Ahead of the Jewish New Year and High Holidays, the Rabbinical Center of Europe (RCE) and European Jewish Association (EJA) asked a representative sample of 197 community leaders in Western and Eastern Europe how many people plan to visit synagogues during Rosh Hashana. According to the findings, only about 15% of Europe's Jews plan to attend the prayers and shofar blowing with their children, while 85% will stay away.
This figure marks a considerable rise of about 75 percent in the number of Jews concealing their religion within one year, after a similar survey conducted about a year ago found that only 40 percent of Europe's Jews fail to express their Jewish identity in any way - neither religiously nor socially-communally - and 75 percent of their children don’t go to Jewish schools.
Major security measures at synagogues
This year also saw a significant rise in the number of Jews who will not attend synagogue, after a similar survey conducted last year found that about 70 percent won't participate in the holiday prayers, not even on Yom Kippur. The estimate at the time was that the assimilation level among European Jews amounted to about 80 percent.
EJA General Director Rabbi Menachem Margolin said that "Jewish communities are working hard to help Jews attend Rosh Hashanah services. Major Security measures are being taken and we can report that there is a relative increase in the number of Jews who have expressed their intention to attend synagogues over Rosh Hashanah with their families, compared to last year."
Rabbi Margolin called on the Israeli government to increase Jewish education in the Diaspora, saying that "most young people whose parents avoid identification as Jews will not maintain any connection to the Jewish people and their homeland. This is a serious trend not only in terms of European Jewry but also a strategic problem of the State of Israel."
He added that the different Jewish organizations across Europe were working both vis-à-vis the European Union and vis-à-vis the different governments in order to boost security around synagogues and Jewish institutions and revive Jewish life in every city with Jewish residents.
"We are dealing now with a pincer movement," Margolin said. "On the one hand, repeated waves of anti-Israel harassment, which is really anti-Semitic expression, and on the other hand - especially in light of what already seems like the Islamization of many cities throughout the continent, a murky wave of nationalism and xenophobia."