Once being to Genova , the head of its community was continuously referring people there as: “my community” in such a warm way, I truly got jealous. It was only until later, when we sat with his friends in a bar in Milano, that they made a big joke out of it.
True, He didn’t hold any significant official position that defined him as one, and as far as I know, some won’t even count it as a community by the number of people there, but for me he was a leader. If you care enough to put on a Hanuka party to “your people”, (and they come) – you are.
In Budapest, that is considered to be one of the most active Jewish communities in Central Europe, I was attending too many Hanuka parties that were organized by different sources, barking on the same trees, trying to survive their monthly report to keep them on going to the next year budget. So instead of making some people happy, they made one community very confused.
This is why I couldn’t feel more joyful to find Przemek’s gang in Szczecin, Poland.
Przemek didn’t need to explain anything about his activity as we got right into it.
This guys, are first of all, my friends, he said, and this is exactly what I experienced; In Szczecin, young Polish Jews (Halachic or not) join Israeli students, living with other non Jewish foreigners in random spontaneous gatherings. Not because they are obligated to by any educational program, or due the benefit of some scholarship, also not because they’re looking for the right mingling into the Jewish local life. These happy Szczecin dudes were the most genuinely bonded group I was ever introduced to, as much as a bunch of strangers could be.
Not surprisingly, considering they are all orchestrated by an extremely pluralistic “collector”: an educator living a bit out of the city, though with roommates, still in a very familial country-house. Przemek leads his community with no exemptions: everybody chips in, and no begging for funds. Only this way we could keep it real. For Shabat dinner each gets to bring his dish- we do not need any “project” in order to enjoy each-other’s company.
And when it’s fun, it further drives the passion to search for a broader integration outside the city, in Wroclaw for instance or generally to investigate more about Jewish activities around, to inspire and get inspired. I most certainly did.
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