French chief rabbi calls for solutions for Mideast refugees
Menu JTA Search

French chief rabbi calls for solutions for Mideast refugees

(JTA) – The chief rabbi of France called on his country and the European Union to find solutions for the tens of thousands of immigrants streaming in from the Middle East.

Rabbi Haim Korsia spoke of the immigrants – among them many refugees from Syria – at an annual ceremony in Paris’ Synagogue de la Victoire on Sunday in memory of approximately 76,000 Jews whom Nazi authorities and local collaborators deported to death camps in Eastern Europe during the Holocaust.

“France is a land of asylum and hospitality; France, the cradle of human rights, cannot ignore these women and men who fall at the gates of our borders, with the only hope — that of living,” said Korsia. “France, which radiates around the world through its values of humanism, universality and sharing, cannot be silent while facing the trial of its fellow human beings.”

Stopping short of calling for France to offer asylum to the refugees, Korsia urged “civic and human burst, strong gestures from our country and the European Union, so that solutions can be found as quickly as possible.”

Referencing French non-Jews who risked their lives to save Jews or speak out against the Nazi genocide, Korsia also said, “We must be the Saliege and Theas, the Trocme and Boegner of our time and say, in memory of our dead and loyalty to our values. Migrants are our brothers in humanity.”

In Brussels, Menachem Margolin, a Chabad rabbi and director of the European Jewish Association, called on other rabbis to join him later this week on a solidarity visit to a refugee center in Brussels, where he and his staff intend to speak to people who left Syria and hand out food and other items.

“European Jewry well remembers having to flee their homes empty-handed in our recent history,” Margolin wrote in a statement. “We must use those experiences and all possible tools at our disposal to help these migrants to build their own futures.”