The end of the academic year, the IJC holds its traditional “Farewell Shabbat”. This took place the last weekend of May. The IJC is a synagogue community serving, for the most part, an international, ex-pat community. And by its very nature, the IJC receives new members each year and sees others leave for destinations all around the world. Though members anticipate these predictable and regular departures, it doesn't make them any easier.
On 17 May, the Flemish Brabant group Leonardo LGBT organized the seminar ‘Homosexuality and religion, irreconcilable?’, an activity to mark International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia (IDAHO). During the event, held in Leuven, representatives from the Muslim, Hindu, Jewish and Roman Catholic communities discussed this controversial topic from a theological and societal point of view.
IJC member Ilana Sumka recently contributed an excellent article to The Forward – a US weekly publication and online news source primarily for a Jewish audience. Ilana writes about being Jewish in Belgium in light of last week’s terrorist attacks. Her article is entitled: No, Being Jewish in Belgium Doesn’t Feel Like 1930s Germany. And Yet…
We are nearly at the end of the ritual journey from Egypt to Mount Sinai. There is a Jewish tradition to count the seven weeks that lie between the Exodus (Passover) and when God gave us the Torah on Mount Sinai (Shavuot, the Feast of Weeks). It is a journey of transformation from slavery to nationhood, from being subjects to becoming responsible in a reciprocal covenantal relationship.
Many IJCer’s will remember the visit of the Yale a cappella choir Magavet to IJC in May 2014. After giving a concert for IJC in Gilly Weinstein and John Weissberg’s back garden, they sang at the commemoration of the Jewish Museum killings in the Sablons. Here are a couple more messages from Magavet members:
From Micah Sukol
I'm sure that many from around the world have reached out to you, but I wanted to add my voice in expressing my deepest condolences and support forthe IJC. I graduated last year (from Yale) and am currently living in Israel. I can tell you that reverberations from the most recent attack in Brussels have been felt here as well.
I don't think I'll ever forget singing in Gilly’s backyard that Sunday in June and at the communal memorial at the Jewish Museum, and I can only imagine the current atmosphere throughout all of Brussels, both within the Jewish community and around the city. I hope that this period between Purim and Pesach, both celebrations of survival and redemption, albeit with the Divine playing opposite roles in each holiday, is one in which your community and country enjoy security, safety, and peace as you begin the process of moving forward.My prayers are with you.
From Esther Portyansky, Yale University, '16
Thank you so much for sending us the IJC's newsletter! I have been thinking ofyour community in the wake of Tuesday's terror attacks, and very much hoping that nobody’s loved ones were hurt. I am sending my most sincere condolences to the entire city and country, and especially to those whom this tragedy has touched personally. Having seen the way that Brussels came together after the shooting in the Jewish Museum two summers ago, I have faith that the Belgian people will not let this tear them apart, but will instead come together to grieve, comfort each other, and (trite as it sounds) unite against hatred and fear.
If there is anything that we can do, any way that we can contribute to the IJC in these difficult days, please do let us know. In the meantime, we are sending our love and support to the IJC and to the city of Brussels.
BaLaGan’s is an organization for LGBT Jews in and around Brussels. Established only six months ago, it already has more than 80 members representing over 20 nations. LGBT is an acronym for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender. The IJC, together with Beth Hillel, have pledged their support for BaLaGan.
The IJC teen group plays an important role in connecting teens to the IJC after their bar and bat mitzvahs and keeping them involved with the community. Over the years, teen trips have been organized to Israel, Nottingham, Budapest and Warsaw. The teens meet regularly for Shabbat and Havdalah dinners.