A RETURN TO NEIGHBOURLINESS
You don’t need us to tell you that the picture is a bleak one right now. Only this week France saw a leap of anti-Semitic attacks of 74%, Germany and the UK also reported upsurges.
The politics of identity is everywhere. But it’s not inclusive. Instead it tries to divide into camps. To re-enforce the supremacy of one idea over another. To say that there is one idea, over all the others, and you are either for it or against it.
The EJCC is proudly against it.
We work at the heart of Europe.
And Europe has a beautiful array of cultures and ideas.
To say that one has supremacy demeans us all.
Jews have made a massive contribution to this rich tapestry of life over two thousand years of history in Europe.
But too often we retreat into ourselves when things get tough. It is not enough to say “don’t hate us”. We must remind everyone that the world we see around us was constructed together. And that we should focus on building, not hating.
Our voice has seldom been more important. Not only because we find ourselves on the frontline of this battle of identities, but because people look to us to see how we will react to it.
Do we retreat? Do we surrender? Do we bow our heads meekly, shrug our shoulders and close our door to the world?
The answer must be no!
When things get tough it is the time to cling even stronger to our Judaism and our Mitzvot as a force for good. To make this world a suitable dwelling place for Hashem.
Our vision is one where the weight of human responsibility is shared amongst each other.
The Rebbe taught this principle well – we all know the story of the politician who asked him what he could do for his community, and the Rebbe asked him to take care of Chinese immigrants in Lower Manhattan, who were experiencing hard times.
It is this respect, this beautiful example that we should follow, and instill others to follow too. The Rebbe’s teachings are for humanity as a whole, not just for us.
We must talk through and actively deconstruct the barriers of suspicion and hate that others are trying to erect.
Our programs are geared towards this goal. To show key decision makers and influencers in the EU that Judaism is “a light unto my path”.
Because without good neighbors, without understanding, without respect and the dignity of difference, we don’t live in the world. We all just live in our own worlds.
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In 2004 Rabbi Avi and Nehama Tawil opened the doors of the European Jewish community centre, based in the heart of the European district, where they welcomed people with warmth and proposed programmes and resources for civil servants of the European Union.
Over the years, the centre has grown rapidly, with an educational institute for all ages, and hundreds of events that highlight the wealth of Jewish culture and connect people to their roots as proud Jews and proud Europeans.
These events are attended by Parliamentarians, Commissioners, Prime Ministers, and Ministers of all European countries.
Avi and Nehama have initiated Jewish New Year Cocktails or Chanukah celebrations in the premises of the European Institutions to celebrate the contribution of Jews in Europe for 2000 years.
Two years ago, following the terror attacks in Brussels, society was at risk of fragmentation. They created a platform called Dialogue & Diversity to raise awareness of the importance of respecting each other, and celebrate diversity. “We must instill a sense of mutual responsibility if we want a better society”.