Capping a Successful Year

On Sunday, June 14 the IJC held its 17th Annual General Meeting. It was my first as IJC President and it was unlike anything I had imagined as this year we met on Zoom and not in person. And yet, even if virtual, our meeting felt like a gathering of old friends to celebrate what has been a good year for our community.  We have persevered through the Corona crisis thanks to a strong online presence. During the lockdown we have learned that services like Kabbalat Shabbat, lectures, lessons and chats can be organized online and may be a complement to physical events in the future.


Combining the two ways of offering our services, we will have a very versatile and interesting community schedule for 5781.  Finances, long in the red, have been redressed and are in balance. A new conversion class has graduated. The Hebrew School is reinvigorated. Our rabbinical intern Brian Doyle is making his mark.

Let me elaborate on finances. David S., our treasurer has told us that judicious cost-cutting and good revenue from activities has rebalanced our books. For this historical success, I’m grateful to other Board members.  Lisa K. success in growing the Hebrew School and eliminating its deficits was crucial.  Ilana S. led a high-quality conversion class -- and kept it within budget. Diane V. streamlined our security and generated significant savings.

By living within our means, we have not sacrificed any essential community activities. More people than ever are showing up for our virtual services. We have bolstered our international presence, joining the CCOJB, the Belgian arm of the World Jewish Congress. We also have taken the key step of introducing a formal demand for recognition from the Belgian state.

And finally, we have worked with the Brussels office of the EUPJ to win a European Commission grant to combat anti-Semitism. In the coming two years, members will be participating in this paid project.

The AGM full report, as well as the financial report, are available for members on request by email to

For sure, many unknown elements could capsize our best-laid plans.  Our much anticipated in-person gatherings in September might not happen if there’s an uptick in Covid-19 numbers and the government tightens rules about gatherings.

Yet our strengthened community makes me optimistic. I’m looking forward to next year with events which t we had to postpone due of the lockdown. Johan B. is planning to take us to Kazerne Dosin Holocaust Museum in Mechelen. The Refugee Shabbaton will be rescheduled.  We will plan new challah baking events. And I look forward to Anneke S.’s singing sessions. All these events work only if we can meet in person.

Enjoy the summer break and I look forward to seeing you healthy and re-energized in September!

Anu Ristola