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Jewish Women in Europe: Creating Alternatives. 8th International Bet Debora Conference of European Jewish Women, Activists, Academics and Rabbis

The conference was a space to inspire an exchange of thoughts and ideas among people of different backgrounds and are addressing academics, students, rabbis, artists, activists, politicians, teachers, child carers, lawyers and all those who share the concern for the future of Jewish life in Europe, and women’s active part in shaping it.

In the beginning of September, together with Foundation Bente Kahan from Wrocław and Bet Debora from Berlin, we invited representants of various organizations and Jewish environments to Wrocław – the European Culture Capitol in 2016.

The date of the conference is set to remind us of the eventful history of the Jewish men and women in Breslau and in Europe at large: On September 1st, 1939, the German Wehrmacht attacked Poland, thus triggering World War 2. By the end of this, the Jewish community of Breslau, which was the third-largest in Germany at the time, was erased. Breslau became the Polish Wroclaw. September 4th, 2016 marks the European Day of Jewish Culture, a day dedicated to promoting the knowledge of European Judaism, its history, and present. In 2016 it engages with the topic “Jewish languages”, a theme which we would like to discuss in our conference as well, for German, Yiddish (in the immediate post-war period) and Polish characterized the Jewish living environments in the city.

Recalling the city’s complex German-Polish history and its Jewish community, we want to evoke its legacy and honor all that Jewish women have contributed to the formation of a lively and diverse Judaism in the past and present, as much as to their commitment to fighting for a tolerant and pluralist Europe. The conference offered a unique opportunity to find out more about contemporary Jewish life in Poland and to meet interesting Polish-Jewish women including activists, artists, film directors, and writers.

With our conference’s theme “Creating Alternatives”, our aim is to encourage a conversation about the organization of Jewish living environments that enable equal opportunities and access for women, both within pre-established structures and by means of creating alternative spaces. We want to discuss what interests and wishes women have formulated, which motives they give and their chosen spheres of action, with an emphasis placed on the work of women in art and culture.

The conference was a space to inspire an exchange of thoughts and ideas among people of different backgrounds and are addressing academics, students, rabbis, artists, activists, politicians, teachers, child carers, lawyers and all those who share the concern for the future of Jewish life in Europe, and women’s active part in shaping it.

project implemented in 2016

Organized by:

Bente Kahan Foundation (Wroclaw),
Jewish Association CzulentV (Krakow),
Bet Debora (Berlin).

Financed by:

Rosa Luxemburg Foundation,
Westbury Group
American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee

photo: Tomasz Fila

photo: Tomasz Fila