The 1939 New York World’s Fair was an exciting moment for the world at large. It was a work of optimism whose planning took place in the midst of the Great Depression and was intended to make people see how bright the future could be. It was a counterweight to the mushrooming gloom about the likelihood of war. It converted a garbage dump in Flushing Meadows into a glowing display of man’s progress in science, technology and industry. Actually, it was the first world exposition showcasing what the future could be.
What do you do if you are a Jewish family with a child approaching Bar Mitzvah age, are not a member of a synagogue and want your child to have a Bar Mitzvah ceremony? Order out, it seems – a form of DIY (Do It Yourself). Find a rabbi, a tutor and the trappings of a synagogue (a torah, etc.) to allow you to construct your own Bar Mitzvah experience.
On May 20th, the IJC held a Welcome Shabbat service for the many new faces who have been popping up at IJC over the past few months. It replaced the annual Farewell Shabbat service normally held in May or June each year to say good-bye to the IJC members moving abroad. This year - surprisingly for an international congregation - none of our current members are leaving.
Since its beginnings in 2003, the IJC has fostered a welcoming atmosphere geared mainly to the expat experience – that its members were strangers in a land not their own and were far from their own family and old friends. It has been a Jewish “home away home”.
The IJC performed its duty and paid a debt to the larger Jewish Community on Friday April 28th in a ceremony at the British War Cemetery at Heverlee, near Leuven. It was for a Jewish World War II UK airman, Sidney Smith, who died very close to the end of the War.
As many of you know, we have been searching for a long-term home ever since the IJC came into existence. This has proved to be extremely challenging given our needs and our resources. Our current location will not be available for much longer so the IJC needs a new home.
I am delighted to announce that we have an agreement to move to Beth Hillel from January 1, 2018.The boards of both communities are doing their utmost to make a co-habitation attractive and mutually fulfilling. Our Rabbis have met several times over the past months and our ‘Side by Side’ services earlier this year were viewed very positively by the vast majority of IJCers who attended.To be clear, this is not a merger. The IJC would share a location but operate separately from Beth Hillel; but of course there will be important synergies in terms of sharing space and in cooperating with each other.
Let me mention some key advantages for the IJC – and they are really substantial:
Given the times we live in, the IJC has constantly been delicately balancing security with (lack of) visibility. To have our name on the door, an address on our website, to be able to come ‘out’ is very exciting! We can openly say (including in writing) “this is us, this is where we are, find us here!” - an enormous departure from the past.
I am confident that sharing Beth Hillel’s space will help IJC not only to continue to exist, but to truly flourish.
We are guaranteed the right to use our current location through December. While IJC might be allowed to stay longer, planning and carrying out a move takes time. With the target date of January 1, 2018, we can organize the move in stages over the autumn.
If you have any questions or comments at this time, please let me know.
For the Board
September 1, 2017
Jews are commanded to celebrate Pesach each spring to remember the Exodus when Moses led the Israelites out of Egypt over 3200 years ago. The Exodus is one of the defining moments of Jewish history and identity. The key way to observe this commandment is to tell the Pesach story at a Seder sitting around a dinner table with friends and family.