Review of the Year

IJC’s recent Annual General Meeting was an opportunity to look back to the past year’s activities. Despite the hard pandemic year, the IJC has done well, and here are some highlights.

We have offered well-attended weekly Zoom Kabbalat Shabbat services and monthly Shacharit services. The last one was especially beautiful led by Anneke & Andres and included students from the EUPJ’s Baalei Tefillah program: Ezra, Maria, and Mikael who will expand our group of lay prayer leaders.


We had several Life cycle events too, starting with Nina’s baby naming, the Bar Mitzvah of Theo Lugard, and Eric Mark’s funeral and shiva. We celebrated a successful and intimate High Holy days on Zoom, a creative Purim event led by Ilana Sumka and we thank her also for leading our community Seder.

Our Adult education programs were led by Andres Mosquera and Helen Bloom, book club meetings were organized by Jana Nackberg, and lectures included a standout session with former member and U.S. Ambassador to the EU Tony Gardner.

The Refugee Shabbaton was celebrated in collaboration with HIAS and EUPJ.

Informal opportunities such as the Schmooze and Cafe Klatsch sessions were much appreciated thanks to Diana Kanter, Ruth Friedman, and Lisa Arbeiter.

The Hebrew School continued on Zoom, which worked for the older kids, but less well for the little ones and that class was cancelled.

I have of course left out many names, but all this to say that the level of membership engagement has been higher than ever.

We have also made real progress in our pursuit of state recognition in Belgium. We have supported Brian as he prepares to graduate from Geiger College and become our full Rabbinical leader; and our finances are stable.

Of course, not everything has worked so well. Recently, we’ve had some difficult exchanges on our IJC@Home Facebook group page concerning Israel/Palestine. This has caused questions and tension. Some members are asking whether IJC is the right platform for such a debate.  My position is clear: it is not.  Our mission is to offer religious, educational, and social activities. We are proud of being a ‘big tent’ community catering to a broad membership that embraces diversity and tolerance and not a political organization.

It is the board and the rabbi’s task to manage sensitive issues like this. We are searching for an appropriate format for this debate in collaboration with outside counsel and volunteers from the community. The new board has already taken the first steps and this will be communicated soon.

We hope to be able to have services again in person after the summer break. Some of our activities may remain on Zoom and some may be hybrid. We have several Bar/Bat Mitzvahs coming up and an early High Holy days to prepare.  I’m excited to start working on next year’s calendar with the new board and Brian.

I wish you all a safe and happy summer and looking forward to seeing you in the fall all relaxed and recharged!

Anu Ristola

IJC President