Posted Dana Hadadi Israel/Europe
Persistent to the idea of pursuing reflections that’ll will challenge my identity along this quest I’ve taken, I set down for the first night in Brussels at Moji’s place- a young video editor from Teheran. Later than night we went out to a real Carnival party, where Italians Russians French and Irish happy participants could be found dancing to Brazilian music that was followed by Hora and Kalinka. Differences of nationalities were so not an issue it was almost suspicious.
I think I’ve met my first Palestinian Face-Book friend in that party in Brussels- the capital of NGO’s and Erasmus. Back at the 60s’ it used to be coal mines that was the main city’s products; now it is pluralism. Maybe it is due to the fact Eu’s capital is located there, the fact that the city is bi-lingual by default (most of the people I’ve met spoke more than 2 languages). Maybe it is because 2 dominant nations are forced to co-operate- for almost 2 years they couldn’t agree on a government, and yet the country functioned; This ‘no man’s land’- coming out as if it is -not owned by anyone- it portrays a significant impression of freedom. In Brussels people come before governments, and their portraits decorate the metro stations’ walls.
Why Tel Aviv is not Brussels?
I was accused by my friend to take Israel as granted when it comes to value how colorful it is. One would be stupid not to acknowledge the variety of origins people come from to Israel, but In Israel it is not considered yet as a blessing, but rather as a burden. I wouldn’t be so blinded to believe the Turkish boy will have the same opportunities as the Dutch in Brussels, but at least awareness for tolerance is way stronger. Belgium itself sent a call for Italians and Moroccans to come and work in its mines, so immigrants are a fact that it cannot ignore. While in Brussels, I accidently stepped into a welcoming shelter for illegal residencies on the street- in Israel’s news I needed to watch them cover the industry of cells facilities on the south as a solution to the critical problem of refugees. (instead of putting the money in health-care and education for example).
Weren’t we suppose to be “Or l’Goim’? (a sun to the other nations) What happened? How come the chosen people- who brought the book to the world are running behind on the race for the implementation of human rights?
Why does the Hegemony of Ashkenaz Jews still occupy the media, possessions and the elite status over other Jews, who were called (just like in Brussels) to join in the so-called mutual construction of our beloved land to revive it for all Jews wherever they are?
How do we manage our exclusive resource we are gifted with- a capital that it is sacred for 3 religions? And why only in Brussels I found a big Chinese super-market that does not lie in a heart of some Ghetto, but as another shop in the middle of the city?
My friends’ daughters are half Ethiopian Jews. They’ll share their bench in their school in Brussels with a native or an immigrant equally. When will I have it for my kids in Israel?
We are already a dominative nation after persecution of years. We made it. It’s grand. I’m a live evidence for it. We won. It’s time to take the prize and enjoy the fruits of the hard work. Leave the fears behind and take responsibility for our actions, instead of keep blaming the world for its stupidity. Let us be the leaders of the new voices, instead of escaping them.
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March 7, 2012 | 6:19 am
Posted Katarzyna Odrzywołek
In the period from 17 to 23 March , less than 25 km from the city of Berlin, Potsdam, there was held the third and the last part of the international seminar on Jewish Histories in Europe. Its theme was closely linked with the history of European Jews. The group, who participated in the seminar, as in the previous two meetings, consisted of Germans, French and Portuguese. This time, the Institute of History represented a group of five students (Eva Dyngosz, Luke Filipczyk, MA Christopher Kędziora, Catherine Odrzywołek), which was coordinated by Martyn Gradzka MA. The meeting in Potsdam was a special event, because it summed up almost a year long project, organized by the German Foundation Zeitpfeil and partner institutions from three other European countries.
We went to Potsdam less than a month ago. This trip was the most important point of the entire project. During the visit we had the unique chance to see many interesting places connected with the history of not only Jews, but of the German state as well. Potsdam is a city symbol, in which the beginning and the end was the most terrible period in the history of the twentieth century - it was here where on March 15, 1933, Adolf Hitler announced the proclamation of the Third Reich, and after 12 years since the events in August 1945 there, in the castle Cecilienhof a conference endiong the Second World War was held. During a Sunday walk we had the opportunity to see also this very place. Two participants of the project, representing the University of Potsdam walked with us around the city, showing places important for the local Jewish community.
In the next days of the seminar we visited the places associated with the period of World War II. Several kilometers from the center of Potsdam there is the villa in Wannsee. In this building on January 20, 1942, chaired by Reinhard Heydrich, held meetings during which decisions were taken to resolve the issue of the European Jews finally. Another important place on the route of our journey was a railway station in Berlin-Grunewald. It can be concluded that the events that took place there were a supplement to the decisions previously taken in Wannsee. It is the station Berlin-Grunewald, starting from 18 October 1941 until February 1945, the Jewish transports departed inhabitants of this city to the ghettos and concentration camps were created in the General Government. In addition, we were able to see the exhibits in three museums of modern Berlin: Jewish Museum, Topography of Terror and the Holocaust, which were substantial complement to this subject.
Potsdam is known mainly from the imposing palace and park of Sanssouci, built in the seventeenth century by Frederick the Great. Being in the city we also visited the complex. The early spring time does not reveal the full beauty of monumental buildings, monuments and gardens, but despite this, the view remained firmly in the memory.
Visits to various places were supplemented by workshops and discussions, during which we worked in international groups. The issues that we analyzed in a special way were: identity, memory and the ways and forms of commemoration in Germany, Poland, France and Portugal. We also debated on the ways and forms of education about the genocide in individual countries. Pending an all-day symposium heard several interesting papers. Dr. Irene Diekmann from the University of Potsdam, spoke about the Jews living in Brandenburg. In turn, Dr. Irene Flunser Pimental at the University of Lisbon, presented the topic of Jewish immigrants in Portugal during World War II. And Martyn Gradzka MA from the University of Education presented a paper on the influence of the Haskalah, the Jewish community living on Polish territory in the second half. Nineteenth century, then each group presented their projects on which she worked almost exactly a year. This is part of the seminar made it unique on the background of previous meetings. The product, which has prepared and presented the Polish group was www.kroke.czulent.pl website. It contains dozens of scientific articles on the history of the Krakow Jewish community and those directly connected with it, and on the Holocaust period. We wanted to create a friendly platform for the teacher and student, so it can be found on educational materials, the composition, which includes: lesson plans, ready-made multimedia presentations, and educational projects. The site also contains basic information about today’s Kazimierz. Using the interactive map you can quickly find objects of interest. Another interesting option is a very detailed calendar, which allows you to move in a long time and know the history of Krakow’s Jews over the centuries. In the longer term we would like to cooperate with educational institutions to create their own curriculum within the framework of the Regional Education Project. Our goal is to provide expert knowledge about the Jewish community living in Krakow, particularly young students who, every day learn and live in the city. We invite all willing to work both when creating content - all the while working on new articles, as well as in organizing educational activities and walks for the students.
Jewish Histories Project In Europe ended. It left a great impression, memories of the beautiful European cities, as well as knowledge of the Jewish communities living in different European countries. The whole seminar was held in a relaxed, friendly atmosphere, was also a place for the formation of international relationships. The analyzed subjects is very broad, and we had a chance to talk just a few of its aspects, therefore, currently under discussion on the continuation of the project or the organization of smaller thematic seminars.
March 5, 2012 | 6:41 am
Posted Dana Hadadi- Israel
As I got more and more to the west (calling Stockholm neutral) I found Jewish identity in the communities shifting its course from using religion as its core to using nationality.
We all wish to group ourselves in a way. As Judaism is being performed in a very wide range (And I just travelled Europe so far) I recognized differences in the semantics people use when they come to define themselves inside this complex group.
Let it be in your mind, that I spend 1 week as a foreigner everyplace I go, and I regularly compare my findings with my knowledge of Tel-Aviv, where I was brought up, and Budapest- where I lived and worked, as the origin of my own “Jewish Renaissance”. I’m not a professional analyst of a well known university, and I’ll probably, won’t truly get a grasp on society when they bring it to me in numbers. I tend to experience the world by a very limited individual tool-box of senses more than by scientific objective tools.
And the people who come to my aid on this process of designing my view on the Jewish world are the people I meet. In every country I’ve been, I was drawn to stick to one prominent character that let me adopt their perspective, and in Amsterdam I was lucky enough to meet Natascha, a young ambitious and fascinating writer, that’s busy greatly with the sac of Jewish values she inherited. Natascha’s bound to be different in her surrounding, her non-European appearance, her over-protective education which was tremendously influenced by the heavy shadow of ‘Shoah’ memories, and other things like certain political views and incredible sensitivity which makes her the talented artist she is.
Identifying with many of her stories, I believe those features lead her to take a more ex-centric position.
If you live in an Eastern Jewish community (where voices of Antisemitism could be still heard) most probably you will vote as a lefty, in most of the cases regarding your life-style. You would like to promote human-rights for your own well-being as a minority. (In Budapest many activists saw themselves obligated to do so even on issues of other ethnic-groups like the Romans, for example). Going west social statuses of most of the Jews will be a bit more assuring, and the Islamophobia takes over. In that case, assimilated ‘well-behaved’ Jews would be considered as the “good citizens” for the demographic balance. A Jew in such position (not embracing the image of the “persecuted, that is) will seek for new characteristics to identify himself by, and would probably stroll down to take a more right-wing and nationalistic approach (like in Israel) making Zionism as his “new religion”. i.e. using a strong militaristic Israel as a mean to his Jewish definition of himself.
Natascha was not like that, because her critical mind never let her to look for an enemy in order to group herself. In fact, she admits, she feels like a Jew without a community.
That is why she wishes so much to explore more the Israeli life. (And not by going to the army). One good friend of mine once put it for me: Having more than one identity is for sure much more interesting and wild. Nevertheless, it is a heavy job. Some time you need to take a break and search for a place you could lay down at least one of those identities for a while.
What I thought was interesting most of all though, was that even raised in a Jewish home, dating a Jewish guy and dealing with Jewish topics in her material, Natascha still bases her Jewish cultural back-ground on the Israeli one. Practicing her Judaism came more in a form of listening to Idan Reichel rather than to Yiddish songs, and loving shakshuka more than latkes.
*Natacsa’s graduation film “Lost and found” (that takes place in Tel-Aviv) is now on post-production.