"The interest in Jewish heritage has certainly grown a lot in the past decades, contributing to a new definition of the historical role of the Jewish communities in Europe"
Within B'nai B'rith Europe, François Moyse helped create the European Day of Jewish Culture. François is also the former President of the Consistoire Israélite de Luxembourg (Jewish Community of Luxembourg).
AEJP: François, over the years we have seen how the EDJC has expanded, and it is already present in more than 30 countries in Europe. In the last edition, more than 300 cities participated, joining Jewish communities, city councils, museums ... What challenges does the EDJC have for the next editions?
FM: Although we are proud of having been able to expand over most of Europe, we believe that the geographical expansion is not over. Some member countries of the Council of Europe, in which there is interesting Jewish heritage will hopefully join as well. Moreover, we have been talking about going beyond the borders of Europe and we will consider any opportunity to do so and associate some outside territories to our activities. Finally, we would like to continue expanding in the number of local partners and include even more places of interest of Jewish heritage wherever possible.
AEJP: Between the time of the Enlightenment and the Second World War, emancipation and the Shoah, Judaism in Europe deployed exceptional intellectual, literary, scientific and artistic creativity. Since then, the centre of Judaism has been in the United States and Israel. Today, can we talk about a revival of European Jewish culture? Or is it still early to make such an assertion?
FM: I am not sure if we see a revival if Judaism in Europe. However, since the fall of the Berlin Wall, Jews in Europe have witnessed a lot of changes, some positive, some not so. Modern times including easier travel and technological changes make contacts easier between Jewish communities. Young people tend to move a lot for their jobs so that we are in a challenging and interesting period. The interest in Jewish heritage has certainly grown a lot in the past decades, contributing to a new definition of the historical role of the Jewish communities in Europe.
AEJP: The Survey of European Jewish Leaders, conducted every three years by the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, affirms that there is a desire to strengthen relationships between Jewish communities, and to belong to European Jewish organizations. However, it was recognized that there has been minimal real integration, and leaders have little direct knowledge of other Jewish communities in Europe. What role can AEPJ play in this regard?
FM: As a European organization working with all sorts of partners throughout Europe, we see that interest is there to contribute to projects of interest both for Jews and for non-Jews interested in Jewish cultural, heritage or history. By promoting Jewish heritage non only on the local or national level, we contribute to the understanding that Jewish communities have nourished themselves from each other in the past and that is of crucial interest to have a wider view of what Judaism and the Jewish communities as a whole are about in European society. We definitively hope that our efforts promote such integration.