Europe and the Jews.
Europe is so many things, and Jews, too, are so many things. I have had the very good fortune of diving into all this over the past couple of years, as president of the European Union of Jewish Students. And I can tell you, it overwhelms me and my colleagues time and time again. From Sweden to Macedonia, France to Lithuania, Bulgaria to Portugal: Stories of great pain and loss, stories of pride and confidence, stories of rediscovery and creation. Stories of joy and belonging.
The Jews and Europe.
We are knowingly launching Voices from Europe today, on Purim. Former Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks writes: “There are so many parts of the world today where ancient grievances are still being played out, as if history were a hamster wheel in which however fast we run we find ourselves back where we started. Purim is a way of saying, remember the past, but then look at the children, celebrate with them, and for their sake, put the past behind you and build a better future.”
Europe. Anti-Semitism. “Oh, you two know each other? Come on, just between you and me: Will things between you ever change?”
Whoever builds the future here in Europe will be giving the answer to that.
Over the next couple of weeks, “Voices from Europe” will share stories and opinions of young Jews living in Europe. I hope you will gain a sense of the texture of Jewish life, the individuals shaping their Jewish communities and the hopes, fears and frustrations of young Jews. To be clear: I will not shield you from the tough stuff, the very real difficulties and dilemmas so many of us are facing. That is part of the at-times seemingly paradox coexistence of heartbreak and hope here in Europe. Being Jewish in Europe can be about redefining a Jewish community’s place in society with full confidence in what we have to offer. It can be about feeling great when you’re doing Jewish things. It can be about awakening those around us to the Jewish heritage of their city and society, and inviting them to embrace it. It can be a deep exploration of meaning, purpose and obligation. It can be about family, friends, and love. This list is – of course – not exhaustive.
Expect posts every other day or so, by yours truly and other contributors. Also, be prepared for pop-quizzes about European Jewry, and the “Swiss-German word of the day” (It’s like German, but better.) Find me on Twitter @JaneBradenGolay – But keep the time difference in mind. Dankeschön, and see you around!
Jane Braden-Golay is president of the European Union of Jewish Students.
(Photo: Love Blomquist)