Europe, September 3, 2023 – The European Days of Jewish Culture (EDJC) 2023 have commenced with an extraordinary celebration of Jewish heritage, culture, and memory across the continent. This year, under the theme of “Memory” and with the invaluable support of the European Commission’s Citizens, Equality, Rights, and Values program (CERV), the esteemed patronage of UNESCO, and a fruitful collaboration with the National Library of Israel the EDJC 2023 is proving to be a poignant and enriching cultural journey.
The festival officially launched on Sunday, September 3, with more than 230 activities spanning 63 cities across 20 countries. This inaugural day witnessed the enthusiastic participation of an estimated 40,000 individuals. While the festival’s activities extend until the end of November, accommodating the diverse schedules and unique characteristics of each participating region, the significance of this first day cannot be overstated. It provides an early insight into the festival’s reach and the level of adoption of the materials provided by the European Association for the Preservation and Promotion of Jewish Culture and Heritage (AEPJ), the coordinating entity at the European level. Undoubtedly, the EDJC 2023 has commenced on a note of resounding success.
During this first day of the festival, Europe witnessed a remarkable tapestry of events that celebrated the theme of “Memory.”
In Germany, the Jewish Museum Augsburg Swabia and the Jewish Community Swabia-Augsburg orchestrated an emotionally charged day, featuring heartfelt readings of memories from the Augsburg Synagogue before 1933, cultivating a profound connection between past and present.
Meanwhile, in Portugal, the Interpretation Center of the Jewish Community of Torres Vedras inaugurated a captivating exhibition, “The Portuguese Jewish Diaspora,” delving into the histories of New Christians, crypto-Jews, and Marranos. The event also included enlightening documentaries and a musical interlude.
Romania’s Jewish Community of Sibiu designed a multi-sensory journey back in time, invoking memories through sight, hearing, touch, smell, and taste. Despite inclement weather, the event saw heartwarming reminiscences shared by attendees.
Switzerland hosted the 24th edition of the European Day of Jewish Culture across 10 cities, captivating the public with diverse programs, including guided tours, movie screenings, panel discussions, and concerts.
Spain’s Lorca Taller del Tiempo brought history to life with a theatricalized visit and live streaming session, connecting participants to the Jewish heritage of Lorca.
Slovenia‘s Synagogue Maribor opened an exhibition on the Jewish Quarter’s depictions, accompanied by open-door events in nearby cultural institutions.
In Moldova, an event organized by Agudath Israel and supported by government entities took attendees on a virtual and real journey through Jewish history, complete with an open-air concert.
In France, the Medieval Route of Rashi in Champagne offered a comprehensive program, with lectures and guided tours that explored the Jewish history of the Champagne region. In Alsace, a day dedicated to the memory of Gilbert Weil unfolded in Bouxwiller, celebrating the founder of the Jewish-Alsatian Museum. At the Synagogue in Thann, a lecture by the France Chief Rabbi Haïm Korsia on the theme “Memory and future” was followed by a concert (violin, clarinet, piano) about Jewish memory through famous movies. Finally, the MahJ in Paris organized a full day of events focused on Jewish cuisine, drawing visitors into the rich tapestry of Jewish culinary traditions, attracting a record attendance of 1792 visitors, the best attendance figure since the museum began participating in the European Days of Jewish Culture.
The grandeur of the Opening Ceremony at the Grande Synagogue de l’Europe in Brussels served as a fitting tribute to the commencement of the EDJC 2023, capturing the essence of a festival dedicated to memory and cultural heritage. In this historic and iconic setting, the event unfolded with an air of reverence and anticipation, drawing together an esteemed assembly of dignitaries, including ambassadors from various nations, prominent institutional figures, and members of the public. Inside the synagogue’s hallowed walls, a palpable sense of unity and shared purpose prevailed. Ambassadors from diverse backgrounds came together, underscoring the festival’s international reach and its ability to foster diplomacy through the celebration of culture. Institutional figures, representing organizations committed to the preservation of cultural heritage, lent their support to this noble endeavor. The Opening Ceremony, in its splendor, set the stage for what promises to be a memorable and enlightening European Days of Jewish Culture 2023. It served as a reminder of the importance of recognizing and cherishing the threads of memory that weave together the rich tapestry of Jewish history in Europe, and the profound impact it has had on the continent’s cultural landscape.
As the European Days of Jewish Culture 2023 continue to unfold, we encourage you to explore the wide array of over a thousand activities taking place in more than 200 cities across 30 countries throughout Europe on the festival’s official website. This year’s theme of “Memory” promises to foster deep connections, meaningful dialogues, and a renewed appreciation for the rich tapestry of Jewish heritage that enriches the European cultural mosaic.