The Standing Committee
The Standing Committee of the Conference of European Rabbis met in the Romanian city of Bucharest. A number of issues were on the docket including the war in Ukraine and the refugees it caused and is causing, as well as challenges to Jewish living such as threats to shechita, intervention in educational curricula and threats to cemeteries.
Leading off the meeting was a reading of a special letter sent by HaRav Gershon Edelstein shlita and also signed by HaRav Dov Lando. This letter is translated below.
The conference was chaired by the president of the CER HaRav Pinchas Goldschmidt, formerly of Russia, and Dayan Menachem Gelly who is the chair of the Standing Committee.
One of the issues that were stressed is the operation of the rabbinical court of the CER and the importance of conversion to be performed by it or a permanent and important beis din and not individuals.
Letter of the Rosh Yeshiva HaRav Edelstein shlita
To the Heads of the Current Committee of the European Rabbonim in Bucharest to fortify religion in the Diaspora, heading by HaRav P. Goldschmidt, HaRav M. Gelly and HaRav M. Lebel.
With the world reeling from the difficult war in the Ukraine where entire communities were destroyed, now masses of Jewish refugees from all the continent are seeking refuge and spiritual solace in Israel. Surely at this time, the role of the rabbonim is to rally and stand at the side of the exiles, to relocate the holy communities.
The way to do this is through Torah study, as is written in Yeshaya 26:20, "My people, enter your chambers and shut the doors behind you..." Rashi there says: "This reply was delivered to the prophet: Go my people to your chambers — referring to the halls of shuls and batei medrash."
Therefore, the rabbonim in their different countries and communities, are charged to revive the batei medrash and establish Torah shiurim and exhort the worshipers to attend them, for the Torah is our life and the length of days, in every place and every time. "Torah is life to those who find it and a nostrum to one's whole being." The crux of salvation and preservation for the Jewish people at all times is through involvement in Torah.
The rabbonim must occupy themselves only through disseminating Torah and establishing religion firmly on its foundation. Also imperative is outreach.
We must not provoke the nations and not make ourselves noticeable and conspicuous. Hide yourselves; lead your communities through the power of Torah. Exert yourselves to establish centers of Torah and kollelim throughout the continent which will radiate their influence over their surroundings.
Uppermost at this time is for you to unite and join forces to establish centers for spiritual absorption, both in Europe and to those to immigrate to Eretz Yisroel lest Jews not trip into places of heresy and incitement against religion when they come here. Through the power of your unity, all of you rabbonim will surely lend a shoulder and encourage one another in order to save the spiritual lives of our Jewish brethren. Who can imagine the power of those rabbonim who toil for the public and rescue Jewish souls, both spiritually and physically?
Another vital goal in of itself is to preserve the Shnifishok cemetery in Vilna, containing the remains of great and famous Jewish sages of Lithuania, in conjunction with municipal heads which have already expressed their desire to help. Now we see that this project is not progressing according to the Halacha, and when, in fact, a severe tender has been issued to renovate the building of the Netziv upon the site of the cemetery without conferring with traditional Jewish representatives of Vilna, therefore, we call upon the rabbonim of the Conference of European Rabbis to intervene significantly in this issue involving those who lay in rest, as well as the living who need your help here and now.
May it be His will that you merit plentiful Heavenly Assistance and that your good will succeed in increasing and augmenting Torah and raising the glory of Hashem.
The Letter of Maran Rosh Hayeshiva