The European Jewish Congress held its annual meeting of Directors of affiliated Jewish communities online via Zoom. Over thirty directors, professionals and experts from Jewish communities and organisations throughout Europejoined the online meeting to discuss recent developments, exchange best practices, and discuss opportunities and challenges ahead.
EJC Executive Vice-President and CEO Raya Kalenova opened the meeting, praising the unity and solidarity of Jewish communities, in overcoming the challenges of the past year, namely the global pandemic and rising antisemitism. Nevertheless, Ms. Kalenova emphasised that we must not lose sight of the many important successes we witnessed in the last year, such as the Fifth World Holocaust Forum, the largest diplomatic event in the history of the State of Israel, or the momentous achievement of the peace agreements between Israel and Arab countries, facilitated by the United States.
The President of the Council of Moroccan Jewish Communities, Serge Berdugo, discussed the recent reestablishment of diplomatic relations between Israel and Morocco, emphasising the joy felt by Jews in Morocco and Jews of Moroccan origin across the world. presenting the perspective of the broader Moroccan society, and highlighting the opportunities for increased cooperation between the two countries.
The first session of the meeting focused on the recent European Union Council Declaration of 2 December 2020 on mainstreaming the fight against antisemitism across policy-areas. EJC Director of EU Affairs, Ariella Woitchik; and EJC Policy Director, Johanan Seynave, gave a thorough presentation of the new declaration, addressing the concept for mainstream and its implications to civil society and in particular Jewish communities.
The latest declaration, adopted by the German presidency of the European Council is an important achievement in the fight against antisemitism, as it builds upon the 2018 Council Declaration on the fight against antisemitism.
The second session of the meeting was devoted to presenting updates from Jewish communities. Among the representatives who took the floor were Robert Ejnes, Executive Director of the Representative Council of French Jewish Institutions; Talia Ingleby, International Relations Officer at The Board of Deputies of British Jews; Benjamin Nägele, Secretary General of Jewish Communities of Austria; Adil Anjel, Secretary General of the Jewish community of Turkey; Uriel Perugia, General Secretary of the Union of Italian Jewish Communities and Susanne Holmgaard Hansen, Political Adviser of the Jewish Community in Denmark.
Finally, participants lit the sixth Hanukkah candle with the special participation of Rabbi Dr. Samuel Lebens, research fellow in the philosophy department at the University of Haifa and Jewish educator, who gave a drasha on the meaning of Hanukkah.