More than a week after the cessation of Israel’s military offensive against Hamas targets in the Gaza Strip, acts of anti-Semitism remain on the rise in Europe, leaving local Jewish communities both determined and on guard.

According to a new report by Coordination Forum for Countering Anti-Semitism – a joint initiative of the Jewish Agency, the Israeli Prime Minister’s Office and its Ministry for Diaspora Affairs – the phenomenon’s most rapid ascent has been in France and Belgium, where pro-Palestinian demonstrations this month accompanied acts of violence against several Jewish targets, including Chabad-Lubavitch centers. More than 250 anti-Semitic incidents have taken place this month, whereas 80 such acts were logged in the same period last year.

Rabbi Mendel Belinow, who directs the Chabad House in the Paris suburb of S. Denis, said that his community has been hit particularly hard by the violence. This past Shabbat, a father and son were lightly injured when a group of people threw bottles and cursed at the pair as they walked to synagogue. Just two weeks ago, unknown vandals threw nine Molotov cocktails into the same synagogue, sparking a fire that caused extensive damage to the cafeteria.

After the earlier attack, some 200 community members responded to the terror by uniting for a Shabbat program. Nevertheless, attendees were careful to walk in groups, or wait until after the close of the holy day to make their way home.

This week, said Belinow, women gathered at the synagogue to make challah, while Chabad-Lubavitch rabbinical students have been walking the city’s streets encouraging Jewish men to don tefillin. They’ve been instructed to not respond to any taunts.

The rabbi, who was sitting in his office at the time of the first attack, said that the community is awaiting the results of a police investigation.

“This is very, very hard,” said Belinow, “but we’re not moving from here.”

One week after 21,000 anti-Israel demonstrators marched in Paris, French Interior Ministry officials reported that close to 123,000 people attended similar rallies in 130 cities across the country. Some turned violent, resulting in seven police injuries and 11 arrests.

“France has a large Arab population, especially in Paris, but things are usually quiet,” Patrick Tuati, a Jewish Parisian and businessman explained earlier this month. “But burning cars at protests that get bigger and bigger every day is concerning.”

Security Patrols Increase

Just before the first S. Denis attack, an unknown perpetrator drove a flaming car through the gate of the Chabad-Lubavitch synagogue in Toulouse. Had the attack occurred a mere five minutes later, said Rabbi Yosef Matusof, community members learning inside would likely have been struck on their way home.

“People are definitely worried and concerned for their safety,” Matusof said at the height of the protests. “On Friday night we walk to synagogue and we hear them yelling, ‘We will kill you!’ and ‘Israelis are murderers.’ ”

The rabbi responded by increasing security at the synagogue and the local Jewish school. He told community members to “be strong and have faith that things will be secure.”

But over in Villeuve-S. George, local Jewish residents were stunned to discover that the back door of their synagogue had been set ablaze, causing some damage inside.

“It was miraculous that the fire just stopped,” said Rabbi Schneour Zalman Lubecki, who arrived two months ago as a Chabad-Lubavitch emissary, adding that the Torah scroll that was to be officially dedicated to the community this Sunday still smells of smoke. “Thank G‑d, the shul did not burn down.”

Since then, police have increased their patrols around the Chabad House. The local mayor also pledged to install a security camera on the synagogue’s roof.

In neighboring Belgium, a synagogue and house were set ablaze this month. Several Jewish residents even received death threats.

“We live pretty close to the Arab neighborhood, and for years things have been going on: kids are attacked on the streets, there’s name calling and spitting,” said Antwerp resident Reva Wineberg, whose house was targeted by attackers who shoved rags soaked with lighter fluid into her mailbox and set them ablaze. “Whenever something happens in Israel, it immediately gets worse over here.”

“Besides getting nervous anytime there is a police siren outside, we’re trying to go about our lives,” she said during the latest war. “The way to deal with the situation is to be strong, to not be afraid, to increase in acts of goodness and kindness, and to fight the darkness.”