2nd Annual European Jewish Resilience Conference Helps Strengthen Tenacious Jewish Communities

As European Jews continue to face challenges including terror attacks, growing nationalism, rising anti-Semitism, the Syrian refugee crisis, and complex socioeconomic challenges, JDC believes strengthening Jewish community resilience and planning for the future are key to ensuring thriving Jewish life across the continent.

That's why dozens of leaders, experts, and professionals came together to further invest in Jewish life at the second annual European Jewish Resilience Conference, recently held over two days in Barcelona.

Last year’s inaugural JDC Resilience Conference paved the way for this year’s confab, which acts as a forum in which community leaders and others can join together to have robust conversations on not only the current challenges they face, but also specific ways to overcome them.

“In these frightening times, it is very reassuring to know that there are people who are thinking ahead and helping us plan for the future,” said Yariv Reisler, Chairman of the Irish Jewish Museum.

Themes of the conference included: developing relationships with local authorities and other faith communities; strategies and common dilemmas to improve media relations; and models and best practices related to security and preparedness.

Co-organized with the European Council of Jewish Communities (ECJC) and the European Jewish Congress, and supported by UJA-Federation of New York, the event brought together attendees to learn about critical issues that will affect the future of Jewish community life in Europe. Despite rising tensions, most Jews in Europe are committed to a future there.

Keynote speakers like renowned historian and Paideia Director Fania Oz-Salzberger spoke about Judaism's approach to resilience and community survival, while Guardian columnist Jonathan Freedland highlighted extremist trends in Europe and a Jewish response to these movements.

“Resilience is not only about staying alive. It's about asking, "Why is it worth it to be alive?,” Oz-Salzberger said.

The conference also included a conversation with Katharina von Schnurbein, who coordinates the European Union's efforts to combat anti-Semitism, and a special panel discussion on French Jewry featuring Jewish leaders from France.

“I came into a room filled with strangers, but I felt that I was with family," said Petra Kahn Nord, Secretary General of the Jewish Youth Union of Sweden. "We are all dealing with similar challenges and here we can really strengthen each other."

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