This week, the EUJS office embarked on a 2-day visit to the German capital in order to strengthen ties with its partner organisations and to learn more about the community.
Flying into Berlin on Tuesday morning, Benny, Karin and Elliot toured some of the city's most impressive sights whilst simultaneously gaining an insight into the city's diverse past. Of these landmarks, the Neue Synagoge particularly drew on the nature of Berlin's war-torn past. 'Seeing the impressive facade of the synagogue bears witness to the city's rich Jewish heritage, whilst the synagogue's destroyed interior is testament to the reality of life for Jews in Berlin during the Nazi regime', Karin remarked.
During the afternoon, we were warmly welcomed by Benny's old school - still the only Jewish secondary school in Berlin - where we gained an insight into the unique history of the school and of the thriving community that look after it. For years, the school was either unoccupied or closed, but now stands as one of the most crucial hubs for Jewish community life in Berlin. 'It's a great thing to see', Elliot says.
Tuesday ended with a visit to ELES (Ernst Ludwig Ehrlich Studienwerk), a German Jewish scholarship fund that provides study grants for unique students as well as a variety of high quality educational programmes and seminars. The team met with with Jonas who gave an overview of the history of the foundation as well as its growing significance as a major player in shaping informal education for German Jewish students.
On the following, and final, day in Berlin, the EUJS office along with board members, Hester van Trommel, Barbora Majling and representataives from the French (Sacha Ghozlan), Hungarian (David Csillik) and members from the Norwegian Union of Jewish students, attended the AJC European Forum on anti-Semitism. The afternoon conference hosted some of the most influential Jewish leaders in academia, security and community welfare in Europe. The range of topics discussed were vast and included: the relationship between anti-Semitism and the refugee crisis, responses to the terror attacks in Paris and practical solutions for a safer Europe. A special thank you was given by AJC Berlin Director, Deidre Berger, to the EUJS and the other student representatives, both of whom activiely participated in discussions. Students were able to raise questions and ideas that were not previously raised and made statements that often allowed others to reconsider certain standpoints.
'We need to keep on promoting dialogue and finding constructive ways of tackling our obstacles' Benny exclaimed.
To read the AJC article on this event in German, click here: http://ajcberlin.org/de/media/meldungen/j%C3%BCdische-vertreter-europas-fordern-erh%C3%B6hte-sicherheitsma%C3%9Fnahmen