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IJC Goes Slightly Dutch

On February 19th, and for the first time in its 20-year history, IJC organised a Friday evening service and potluck dinner with Dutch/Flemish as the main language connecting the Hebrew prayers and inspiring the conversation at table.


Attempts have been made in the past to establish a Dutch-speaking Havurah in Antwerp, initiated in the first instance by Dutch-speaking members of our sister community Beth Hillel together with some of our own IJC Dutch speakers. For various reasons these endeavours were not sustainable, so a different trajectory seems advised.


Shortly after my ordination, when I was invited by some leaders in the Belgian and European Jewish world to explore ways of incorporating Dutch into IJC’s profile, it made sense to begin by offering to engage with our members in various pastoral contexts in their native Flemish where appropriate. The same applies to those exploring membership. This has been greatly appreciated. The next logical step was to introduce a small number of Hebrew/Dutch services per year in addition to our regular services.

IJC presently has +/- 30 members who speak and/or understand Dutch. 20+ attended the service and potluck and several others who were unable to attend expressed an interest in similar events in the future. And as you can see from the picture, some of those who attended know, by their own admission, very little Dutch. In other words, IJC’s Dutch/Flemish services are intended to be inclusive not exclusive. Everyone is welcome.


IJC is and remains an English-speaking, yet delightfully polyglot community. Going slightly Dutch every now and then can help us grow and position ourselves to our greater advantage in the Belgian Jewish landscape. 


Rabbi Brian



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