As it commemorates the 75th anniversary of Kristallnacht, the state-sponsored attacks against German Jews and their property, the Austrian Jewish community will for the first time observe the event with the leadership of the country’s Muslim community.
Rabbi Marc Schneier, spiritual leader of The Hampton Synagogue who was invited to attend the event with Imam Shamsi Ali of Manhattan, praised the Austrian Jewish community for “setting an example for all Europe by reaching out to its Muslim neighbors.”
He pointed out that the recent resolution of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe to condemn circumcision as a violation of human rights was directed at both Jews and Muslims. Instead of each community mounting its own protest against the resolution, Rabbi Schneider said both Muslims and Jews should work together to get it rescinded.
Towards that end, he announced that the Gathering of European Muslim and Jewish Leaders that he founded five years ago would launch a petition drive in synagogues and mosques across Europe. The petition calls on the Council of Europe to “rescind its anti-democratic and hurtful resolution.” It labels the resolution an “attack on our two communities” and says its enactment “would make it impossible for Jews and Muslims of conscience to go on living on this continent.” It is to be presented to the Council on Dec. 1.
“One of the most profound lessons of Kristallnacht is that the Jewish people cannot and should not fight these battles alone,” Rabbi Schneier said. “We need allies and to build bridges.”
He added that the fact that he and Imam Shamsi Ali, who co-authored a book about the differences and similarities in Judaism and Islam called “Sons of Abraham” (Beacon Press) were invited to the commemoration was also important.
“The two of us are crossing the globe to bring about a reconciliation between Muslims and Jews,” Rabbi Schneier said. “Our book tour is taking us to six continents and 35 countries.”