News of the mass shooting in Christchurch New Zealand reached many of us early in the morning as we were getting the kids off to school or heading out to work. In the last 48 hours we have learned the extent of this devastating act and we are deeply saddened and angered. Two Muslim communities were gathering for Friday prayer in their mosques and they were confronted by hatred personified as a right-wing self-proclaimed fascist.
This week's Torah portion, read in Jewish communities throughout the world, reminds us of our duty to eradicate hatred wherever we find it, personified in the biblical text and in our tradition as Amelek the enemy of the Jews. In Christchurch, hatred revealed itself as the enemy of Islam, in Pittsburgh as the enemy of the Jews. In Brussels too, on our own doorstep, we have seen the face of Amelek. We can say without hesitation: #TheyAreUs.
As our hearts and prayers for refuah shlemah go out to the injured, we also remember the many who lost their lives and the many more who will have to live with that loss. Today we redouble our commitment to eradicating hatred from the world whatever form it takes.
IJC Rabbinical Intern
Save the Date!
The IJC invites you to an informal, inspiring Pesach Seder on Friday night, April 19. The Seder will be led by Ruth Friedman & Brian Doyle and organised by a dedicated team of volunteers. The evening will include the Seder rituals, a catered dinner, and your favourite traditional songs.
DATE: Friday, April 19
TIME: 6.30 pm
Official registrations will start after Purim, so watch out for information about costs & more details on the planning for the evening.
IJC memberAlexandra Varese was recently accepted by the Beth Din as a Jew
“It has been a long journey. Although my mother and my grand-mother are Catholic, Jewish values have always been very present both culturally and spiritually in my family. Those values were attached to the memory of my grandfather and my great-grandmother. She was a Mexican Jew whose family originally came from Toledo, Spain. Her son -my grandfather- was killed by the Nazis for fighting fascism in Italy in 1944. His life story awakened in me a profound feeling of admiration and of attachment.”
By Anneke Silverstein
When I suggested holding an IJC Shabbat at our place in Antwerp on February 22nd, I was imagining a full table of ten people and a lovely shabbat conversation in the quiet, warm embrace of our family. How big was our surprise to find ourselves welcoming 27 IJC members on a recent Friday night! Creating community happens through small but very important actions. They are like little seeds from which miracles grow.
Bill Echikson, IJC member and Director of the EUPJ Brussels office, recently published an article in Politico on the rise of anti-Semitism in Europe. He explains what he sees as the political forces behind this alarming resurgence, how anti-Semitism is being manifested and asks the fundamental question: ‘Will the political extremes win, or will the democratic centre hold?’
POLITICO covers the politics, policy and personalities of the European Union. It was recently voted by EU experts the most influential publication on European affairs.
Some of you will remember that Simon Gronowski came to speak to IJC last autumn. Those who were there found it profoundly moving. They were not alone. Simon's story has now been made into an opera production which has been touring southern England. The UK's Jewish Chronicle (JC) just published a report on the opera, called 'Push' being performed at the House of Commons speaker John Bercow's residence in January. Mr Bercow said it was a means of both "remembering and preventing a repetition of the Holocaust".
With the great generosity of members Lisa and Joris, the IJC community once again held its Hanukkah party in their beautiful and spacious home. Joris was hard at work hours before the event making latkes for what turned out to be a record number – more than 60!
Regular IJC members and many new faces attended, ranging from grand-parents to new born babies. Rabbinical intern Brian Doyle led the Havdalah and children passed around spice boxes. Brian then moved to singing the Hanukkah blessings while the kids lit the many Menorahs brought to the event. The kids sang Maoz Tzur, Oh Hanukkah and of course I have a little Dreidel. There were games and an arts & crafts table to keep them busy too.
This was topped off with the consumption of mountains of latkes and a huge array of desserts.
As Hannukah is also a time to think about the well-being of others, many people brought non-perishable food items for Navitas – a soup kitchen located in downtown Brussels.
All in all, an incredibly warm, friendly event where it was clear people enjoyed coming together to share in the joy of the Hanukkah spirit. Just as it should be.