The European Jewish Congress hosted a Rosh Hashanah reception in its new Brussels office, celebrating the Jewish New Year.
Ambassadors, Members of the European Parliament and national parliaments, European Commission lawmakers, diplomatic officials, and representatives of international organisations and Belgian Jewish community leaders gathered to mark this special occasion and strengthen the bonds of friendship and cooperation.
Raya Kalenova, Executive Vice-President and CEO of EJC, highlighted that “Rosh Hashanah is a time for Jewish communities around the world to reflect on the past and to think about new projects and aspirations for the new year.”
“Rosh Hashanah encourages us to look with hope and determination into the future,” said Kalenova.
H.E. Mr. Mark Gitenstein, the United States Ambassador to the European Union, addressed the audience and said, “on both sides of the Atlantic, we must work with our respective systems to raise awareness, promote transparency, and do more to counter antisemitism.”
“In the EU, policymakers have also developed an antisemitism strategy and other new tools, like new transparency and auditing requirements contained in the DSA, which aim to shine a light and prevent harmful online activities, including antisemitism” remarked Ambassador Gitenstein.
At the same time, guests had the opportunity to listen to his H.E. Haim Regev, Head of the Mission of Israel to the EU and NATO. He emphasized the robust and vibrant Israeli democracy while highlighting the strengthening ties between the State of Israel and the European Union over the past two years. He underscored the significance of the Abraham Accords and the need to further expand them in the future. Ambassador Regev also praised the work of the EJC and the ever-close cooperation.
Afterwards, Yves Oschinsky, President of the Coordinating Committee of Belgian Jewish Organizations (CCOJB) and Executive member of the EJC, took the floor and spoke about the long-standing partnership and friendship between CCOJB and the European Jewish Congress. He also highlighted the rich cultural and religious life of the Belgian Jewish community.
To finalize, former President of CCOJB Yohan Benizri told guests about the importance of Rosh Hashanah for Jews around the world and explained the customs, traditions, and deep symbolism of this significant holiday in the Jewish calendar.
Following his remarks, Benizri led a prayer, and afterward, apples and honey were distributed to symbolize the desire for a sweet new year.
Among the guests were diplomatic representatives from Bahrein, Bulgaria, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Israel, the United States of America, and Ukraine.
A delegation of “Shalom”, the Bulgarian affiliate to the EJC, led by its President Dr. Alexander Oscar took part in this celebration as a part of two-day working visit to Brussels.