By COLlive staff
Photos by Martin Pilette
Vice President of the European Commission Vera Jourova hosted on the premises of the European commission the annual Eurochanukah organized by Rabbi Avi and Nehama Tawil from the European Jewish Community Centre.
For the occasion, EJCC presented an exhibition called “Portraits” – Highlighting the Contribution of Exceptional European Jewish Women. “Portraits” is a selection of extraordinary stories of European Jewish women and their significant contribution to our common European civilization and its outstanding achievements over the past two centuries.
“Portraits” elevates the voices of these talented, spirited, and courageous women. Agents of change – politicians, philosophers, scientists, artists, activists, and businesswomen – these remarkable women inspired future generations of girls and young women to speak out, defy stereotypes, and make the world a better place for all.
“Portraits” includes a selection of mothers, and grandmothers, women who created nurturing homes where their children grew up with self-confidence, curiosity and creativity; women who dedicated their lives to raising children whose work forever changed our perception of the world. Equipped with values of knowledge, perseverance, faith and hope, the sons and grandsons of these Jewish mothers – Einstein, Freud, Romain Gary, to name just a few – experimented, invented and ultimately, changed the world as we know it.
We hope that this small selection of stories will spark your curiosity about European Jewish women and their accomplishments.
Jourova thanked Avi and Nehama Tawil for organizing this ceremony for the past 15 years which became a part of the calendar of the European Commission.
3 women were invited to speak to remember inspire and empower.
Regina Sluszny is the vice president of the Hidden Child Association in Belgium and the president of the Antwerp-based Forum of Jewish Organizations. She was one of 6,000 Jewish children who were hidden and survived the Second World War.
Despite the impact that this story can leave on any child, Regina is filled with gratitude and resilience and graciously shares her story with hundreds of schools in recent years. Her determination to help the Jewish community culminated with her position as the president of the forum of Jewish Communities. She told her very emotional story as a hidden child in a Belgium family who saved not only her but also the entire family.
Sara Ives is the co-director of the Brussels-based European Center for Jewish Students and a mother of six children.
Sara is a professional, a leader of a big organization with over 13,000 members, who chose to create a large family. The story she is about to share will show what perseverance of a loving mother can achieve.
Sara Ives inspired the crowd with a beautiful story of her great grandmother who homeschooled her son who suffered from Polio. He later entered Harvard and worked for Franklin Roosevelt.
Deborah Behar is a multilingual lawyer, a fervent European and a legal officer at the European Commission. She shared her thoughts on what it means to be a young woman who is as passionately European as she is Jewish.
To conclude, a candle for human rights was lit, as this event was organized prior to Chanukah on the 71st anniversary of the Human Rights Declaration and Chanukiot sets were gifted to the guests.