The Greek Refugee Crisis, a Year On

By Marty Eisenstein

In December of 2020, the twenty one-year-old daughter of a dear friend was forced to leave university and return home to Boston after experiencing a severe psychiatric episode. After some very turbulent “freefall” initial months, she has come a very long way. She now has a steady medication protocol and it is working.  She has established trusting relationships in her ongoing Zoom therapy regimen (family and individual). She is playing guitar again, singing and meeting other young adults. She’s pretty much continuing life like a normal young adult. She was never a substance abuser, and has the blessing of a loving family with direct access to the outstanding resources of the Boston medical community, among the best in the world.



Read more: The Greek Refugee Crisis, a Year On

IJC Refugee Shabbat 2.0

In March 2020, IJC was looking forward to a Shabbaton, a full Shabbat dedicated to the issue of refugees in response to the call from HIAS (the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society) to set aside one Shabbat every year to focus on this ongoing plague, and to remember that we were all refugees once. We had planned a full day of study, prayer and presentations, linking online with groups in other European cities who work directly with refugees and the immigrant community, and exploring what IJC’s response might be at the local level. Refugees who have made the perilous journey from a hostile homeland to Belgium were scheduled to share their experience.  Corona forced us to postpone this event.


Read more: IJC Refugee Shabbat 2.0

The Jews of China: Discussion with Ziujuan Blank

The Jews of China

The existence of China's first Jewish community dates back to the early 11th Century, during the Song Dynasty (960-1279). Some of the descendants of this original Jewish community still live there.

The second era in which Jews show up in Chinese documents is in the middle of the 19th century, when some Jewish businessmen went to Shanghai. Their numbers were increased during the period before and after the Russian revolution, when many Jews came from Russia to Shanghai, Harbin, and Tianjin. Then in 1937, because of the anti-Semitic policies of the Nazis in Germany, more than 20,000 Jews fled to Shanghai.

Xiujuan Blank explained this fascinating story to IJC on April 11.




Join Purim at the IJC!

Purim celebrates the triumph of Esther, a brave woman, who stood up to Haman, a wicked man intent on destroying the Jewish people.  Every year in this season, we retell Megillat Esther to remember a quintessential Jewish story which is often humorously summed up in these nine words: ‘they-tried-to-kill-us-we-won-let’s-eat.’ If ever there was a time for using humor to overcome adversity, it’s now.  This year, Purim marks exactly one year since the IJC last met in person.  A year ago this season, the rise of Covid19 in Belgium was sowing confusion and fear, and we chose to put safety first and cancel last year’s Purim celebration.


Read more: Join Purim at the IJC!

Urban Challenges in the Post-Covid World: A View from Brussels

Join us on Sunday February 28 at 4pm on Zoom to discuss what our cities will look like and be like in the post-Covid world. Where and how will people be working? Living? Socializing? Where will people be going for their entertainment, music, art, and cultural events? The Covid-pandemic has challenged the entire world order. Like all other world cities, Brussels, Antwerp, Liege, and Ghent will be confronted with huge reset problems. How will cities recover from this huge crisis? 

This next Adult Education class is with Professor Eric Corijn, one of the Urban Studies experts helping city, regional, and national governments to study and resolve these issues.

Non-members interested in participating please contact


Hebrew School Updates

We are pleased to announce that Rocky Cohen will be our new B’nai Mitzvah teacher, replacing Maayan Smith.  Rocky is a visual artist, musician, and dancer with a vibrant passion for Jewish ritual and community organizing. She recently moved to Belgium from Portland, Oregon.  A big thank you to Maayan for his many years of dedication to our Hebrew School – it was such a pleasure to have him on the team!  We also update you on Hebrew School developments in the Kita Bet and B’Nai Mitzvah classes.


Read more: Hebrew School Updates

Talking Transatlantic Relations with Tony Gardner

Four days before Joe Biden’s inauguration, more than 65 IJCers and friends from around the globe tuned in to talk transatlantic relations with Anthony Gardner, the former U.S. Ambassador to the European Union and IJCer himself. The talk was off-the-record and unrecorded, which gave Tony and participants the unusual opportunity to have an informal, honest conversation across many countries and at least two continents.

            As usual, Tony was a font of well-considered reflection and wisdom. After diagnosing the Trump-imposed infection of EU-US ties, he outlined the path forward for the new U.S. administration and its desire to rebuild its relations with its allies. Tony dove deep into a wide range of issues from trade and taxation to climate change and the digital economy, to Iran and relations with China. Questions focused on the impact of Brexit and a new German leader, the Middle East, some Jewish issues, and the state of health of US democracy considering the January 6th attack on the Capitol building.

            Thanks again to Tony for his insights and support of IJC Brussels.  We wish him a great future in the age of the Biden Administration.