Some of you will remember that Simon Gronowski came to speak to IJC last autumn. Those who were there found it profoundly moving. They were not alone. Simon's story has now been made into an opera production which has been touring southern England. The UK's Jewish Chronicle (JC) just published a report on the opera, called 'Push' being performed at the House of Commons speaker John Bercow's residence in January. Mr Bercow said it was a means of both "remembering and preventing a repetition of the Holocaust".
Learn more on January 25 in Brussels
A first-ever report on how individual EU countries currently face their Holocaust pasts will be published to coincide with UN Holocaust Memorial Day. The European Union of Progressive Judaism Brussels office will host a debate on January 25 and invites, free-or charge, all IJC members.
Many European governments are rehabilitating World War II collaborators and war criminals while minimizing their own guilt in the extermination of Jews and Romas. This disturbing trend is not a question of mere historical accuracy. It represents an important test to the founding liberal values of the European Union.
European Commission Vice-President Frans Timmermans has made Holocaust revisionism a test of member governments’ commitment to the rule of law. With a decreasing number of Holocaust survivors and at a time when anti-Semitism is on the rise, “we need to foster the memory of the darkest chapter in our history,” Timmermans says.
Researchers from Yale and Grinnell Colleges in the US have travelled throughout Europe preparing reports on the performance of individual E.U. countries in facing up to their historical dark spots. Local representatives from the European Union of Progressive Judaism have checked their work. This initial Holocaust Revisionist Report will be published to coincide with UN Holocaust Memorial Day.
Come learn about which countries are confronting their pasts – and which are rewriting it, and the implications for the European Union. Please reserve your seat at email@example.com.
When: January 25, 10:00-11.30am
Where: Residence Palace
Rue de la Loi 155
William Echikson, EUPJ Office Director
Katharina von Schnurbein, European Commission Coordinator against anti-Semitism
Sonja Guentner, Chairwoman, European Union of Progressive Judaism
Sorin Ducaru, former Romanian Ambassador to Washington and Assistant Secretary-General
We were delighted to host Rabbi Lee Moore as our guest rabbi during the last Shabbat of November. On Friday night, guitar in hand, Rabbi Lee led a Kabbalat Shabbat service in Leuven that was full of spirited singing and contemplative prayer. Over Torah Breakfast on Saturday morning, she offered us an introduction to the sacred wisdom of Kabbalah through a combination of ancient legends and a contemporary look at the Tree of Life.
With the great generosity of members Lisa and Joris, the IJC community once again held its Hanukkah party in their beautiful and spacious home. Joris was hard at work hours before the event making latkes for what turned out to be a record number – more than 60!
Regular IJC members and many new faces attended, ranging from grand-parents to new born babies. Rabbinical intern Brian Doyle led the Havdalah and children passed around spice boxes. Brian then moved to singing the Hanukkah blessings while the kids lit the many Menorahs brought to the event. The kids sang Maoz Tzur, Oh Hanukkah and of course I have a little Dreidel. There were games and an arts & crafts table to keep them busy too.
This was topped off with the consumption of mountains of latkes and a huge array of desserts.
As Hannukah is also a time to think about the well-being of others, many people brought non-perishable food items for Navitas – a soup kitchen located in downtown Brussels.
All in all, an incredibly warm, friendly event where it was clear people enjoyed coming together to share in the joy of the Hanukkah spirit. Just as it should be.
'The Shabbaton in Brussels November 9-11 was a unique experience, a great time to gather and to pray together. It reinforced the ties among our synagogues and strengthened our motivations to continue to build up the Progressive Jewish movement in Europe.'
Gilbert Lederman, Shabbaton Co-Organizer, VP Beth Hillel, and Executive Board Member EUPJ and World Union.
Read special report on Brussels Shabbaton
It's official: the EUPJ European Union Office in Brussels is open for business! Nearly 100 people celebrated the event and attended the Brussels Shabbaton over the weekend of November 9-11 hosted by the IJC, Beth Hillel and the EUPJ.
The events gave delegates from almost every EUPJ member country the chance to connect and re-connect, attend Shabbat services together, tour Brussels, participate in workshops and remember the tragedy of the First World War and Kristallnacht in 1938.
Most of all though , it was an opportunity to celebrate the culmination of nearly two years of planning, talking, networking and more to ensure that Progressive Judaism has a voice in all corners of the European Union and related institutions. IJC's Bill Echikson was instrumental in making this happen.
A special edition of the EUPJ newsletter is available for you to find out more about the celebrations. Download it here !
Michael Schwartz sent this update to Anneke Silverstein
'We are doing ok. We are blown away by the support, help, care and generosity of so many friends, family, strangers - community - all around the globe. We are well aware of how lucky we are to have so many who can and have helped us when we need it now...and how shockingly frightening it must be for the vast majority of people who need help but are not as blessed as us to have a support network that can assist.