Already in its 18th edition, this year?s European Days of Jewish Culture will be celebrated throughout Europe from 3 September. The fundamental objective of this European collaboration is to highlight the diversity and richness of Judaism, with the intention of promoting dialogue, mutual recognition and exchange through conferences, concerts, performances, guided tours and other activities.
This year’s theme: Diasporas.
As every year, a specific topic is chosen to link the different initiatives that will take place around Europe. Diasporas, the theme of 2017, invites us to reflect on this important Jewish phenomena and consider it from a present perspective.
The phenomenon of the Diaspora is not new, roots of different diasporas go back to the ancient times. Here, we see an opportunity to reflect and compare histories and patterns of behavior of old diasporas – such as India, China, Jewish or Armenia – and their characteristics of organization, identity and structure (or, re-structure). A investigation into modern and incipient diasporas, unearths topics for strengthening theoretical and practical analyzes of the closely interrelated issues of nationalism, ethnicity, religion and the modern diaspora.
One of the main aspects that can be drawn from the Jewish experience, is not an ultimate essence that defines what a diaspora is, but the richness of the historical process and the variety and construction of institutions as a result of it. Jews have been living in Europe continuously for two thousand years, through a shifting landscape of integration and segregation; dislocation and migration; tolerance and discrimination; opportunity and persecution.
One of the most interesting phenomena of the Diaspora is that it allows a study of the complex relationships between global and local dimensions, the ongoing reabsorption and retranslation of people, and insight into local conditions of each community. Various currents of Judaism, such as the Bund, the Reform religious movement, or Chasidism, a movement of religious renewal initiated in the eighteenth century, acquired new meaning in each national context, and others – the originals – were abandoned, according to the particular conditions of each community.
Today, over a million Jews live in Europe. They are an integral part of multi-cultural Europe, active participants in almost all aspects of their countries’ civic and public life. Jewish contributions to the arts and sciences continue unabated in Europe. Yet, the memory of the twentieth century still lingers, heightening the need for continued tolerance and mutual understanding between Jewish communities and their neighbors.
The European Days of Jewish Culture: a growing initiative.
Last year, more than 300 cities from thirty-three European countries joined the European Days of Jewish Culture, with a participation of more than 169,000 people. This program is coordinated by the AEPJ, the European Association for the Preservation and Promotion of Jewish Culture and Heritage, with the collaboration of the National Library of Israel, and thanks to the initiatives and work of municipalities, Jewish communities, museums and cultural centres throughout Europe. All information on the day can be found at the following link: http://www.jewisheritage.org/web/edjc/2017