At this time of the year, despite many uncertainties in the world, I, as president of the IJC, see many reasons to be grateful. It is now Hanukkah. Viewing things first from a longer perspective, I am grateful for the Maccabee revolt 2,300 years ago against the Greco-Syrian King Antiochus. That king was trying to make the Jews abandon their faith and instead worship the Greek gods. Without that revolt, there would not be a Jewish religion today.

I am grateful for belonging to a congregation that is open to the world and to different ways of worship. A great example was the Shabbat service led by visiting Rabbi Moore on November 24th which was led in the style of the Jewish Renewal movement offering a fresh perspective on how to engage our congregants in the essence of Judaism in services.

I am grateful for our spiritual leader, Rabbinical intern Brian Doyle. He has brought renewed purpose to the IJC. Through leading services and pastoral care, Brian does this with deep compassion and good humor amidst many competing calls on his time from family, university teaching and seminary studies.

I am grateful for all the volunteers that make our Community work. They are essential since the IJC has little funds to pay for its day-to-day operations. By doing their work, they help also build up our spirits. They help add more meaning to our lives.

I am grateful that the EUPJ Shabbaton held November 9th-11th was such a success. It was a showcase for both the IJC and Beth Hillel. It served to bring the IJC itself to the attention of the entire EUPJ and beyond. It could never have happened without the organizational skills of BH's Gilbert Lederman and, on our side, Anu Ristola. Linked to that event was the ceremony marking the opening of the EUPJ Representation Office. I am grateful that we now have this Office. This was an idea I had been pushing for five years. The EU Institutions need to hear clearly the voice of Progressive Judaism. I credit Bill Echikson with taking on this project and making it a reality.

Though we were all stunned by the sudden California wildfire tragedy that hit our own former rabbi, Michael Schwartz, I am grateful that he and his family survived without injury. I am also grateful for the very generous outpouring of support from so many (including from IJC members and alumni) to the urgent need for Michael to rebuild his life after losing everything.

The IJC Hanukkah party takes place on Saturday December 8th at 5:00 PM. Join us to celebrate that holiday and the little miracle that is the IJC.


Steven Brummel
The President of the IJC
December 2018