Written by Carlotta Jarach (UGEI, President) and Alissa Pavia (UGEI, Board member)
Imagine one thousand three hundred folks, wearing a lot of make-up and stage clothes and ready to perform. This is 'JEWrovision', what young German Jews look forward for months, and for which they practice with meticulous care. Four hours full of songs by Daft Punk, Lady Gaga and so on and so forth: the lyrics? Modified, to refer to Jewish life and tradition. The competition comes at the end of a whole weekend spent together: choirs, ballets, all at the top of our lungs. And we as UGEI were right there, surrounded by Judaism, culture, and enthusiasm.
Dresden, the city that just seventy years ago was completely razed to the ground, hosted from 9th to 11th February this show, absurd and fun at the same time. But we were not there to perform, but to join the first cohort of the Union Accelerator Program, organized by EUJS (European Union of Jewish Students): the seminar was designed to promote dialogue and collaboration among other Jewish student unions in Europe. With us, there were Austria (JöH), the hosts Germany (JSUD), England and Ireland (UJS) and Belgium (UEJB). Three days to get to know each other and to start what would be the foundations for more support and upcoming events together. We do have many points in common, but at the same time many characteristics differ enormously.
Representing Jewish students in Europe, EUJS gathered the most stable and consistent member organizations. The goal, for the next two years, is to give support to the unions that are struggling to move forward, thanks also to our best practices. We could feel there was a strong desire to come closer to each other and to help out where help is needed.
But above all, what emerged is the will to rediscover European Judaism and more than anything else, to promote it; to give more weight to the diaspora, to those who want to raise their children in Europe and create Jewish bonds in their hometown.
The sessions, a long and profitable process of design thinking, have culminated with three projects, which see all the unions involved and which the EUJS will try to implement: a mapping app for all the European Unions and related events in which to participate; a European 'taglit', to explore the various Jewish communities and to promote an exchange between European countries; and a structured alumni program especially for fundraising activities.
And what from our side? What do we have concretely brought with us that is spendable in the short term as UGEI?