It was supposed to be the culmination of a successful and heartening holiday season, a joyous Simchat Torah. I woke up to the terrible news of renewed rocket attacks from Gaza into Israel, full-scale Hamas invasions, and Israeli soldiers and civilians being taken hostage and hundreds killed. This terrible news has shaken our entire community. We are also in touch with Jewish community leadership and security services in Belgium and will be on heightened alert over the ongoing Shabbat services. This tragedy comes after what I believe was one of the most moving high holiday seasons. We were fortunate to find a wonderful venue to host us in Woluwe St. Pierre. Rabbi Brian conducted like an accomplished symphony director. Cantor Marty came from Athens once again to lift our spirits with his guitar playing and singing. Chantal and the team provided a break-the-fast that was delicious, nourishing and plentiful. Thanks to all our volunteers for your hard work and dedication. There was another special moment for us to celebrate with the New Year. IJC co-founders Howard Blank, Richard and Lauren Nijkerk returned to join us. All three, like other IJC alumni, have left Brussels, resettling far afield. They did a joint aliyah and for Richard, it was his first ever. It’s been over two decades since Howard organized the first Hannukah party for a group of English-speaking Jewish expats in Brussels. The IJC will celebrate this 20-year birthday on December 2. It promises to be a joyous occasion. Please join us in Brussels if you can.
As we pray for peace in Israel, my thoughts are with all those who are suffering heartache and loss.
Left: Howard Blank, Max and Richard Nijkerk with Steve.
Max, Margot and Lauren with Richard