NEWS - News of B'nai B'rith

BBE Secretary General gives well-presented round-up of European activities

(written by Wally Sacks)

So what’s going on in Europe? B’nai B’rith Europe, that is. Twenty-one miles of water may separate us from the continent but it can seem like an ocean apart when it comes to knowing about the activities of BBE.  All of which made Wednesday 31st October rather special in BBUK terms. That’s the evening  Leo Baeck Lodge had the privilege of welcoming BBE Secretary General Yves-Victor Kamami who, in wide-ranging PowerPoint presentation, managed to detail a most impressive round-up of BBE activities.

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L to R: Alex Faiman, President Leo Baeck Lodge, Yves-Victor Kamami, Jean Etherton, Tony Etherton BBUK National Treasurer

Apart from the normal Lodge activities, BBE supports five Jewish Continuity Programmes in Europe.

BBE is instrumental in planning, initiating and developing the European Day of Jewish Culture on each first Sunday of September celebrating the rich European Jewish cultural heritage. Since 2004, the European Route of Jewish Heritage has been supported by the European Institute of Cultural Routes and the Council of Europe. This BBE initiative is replicated in the UK with our own Jewish Heritage Days events which have now spilled over into a fortnight of varied activities and attracts an ever increasing audience. However, in Europe, covering as it does such a large area with many different countries, the activities span a wider brief bringing back the music, customs and art of people who used to live and worship in towns and ghettoes from Rome, Paris and Madrid to Krakow, Oslo and Sarajevo.

BBE also runs the Makor Project which is their own initiative for education in Central and Eastern Europe and which, quite obviously, has no parallel in the UK. The main thrust of the Makor Project is reconnecting Jews from Eastern Europe who have lost their Jewish roots during the communist era. Programmes featuring Jewish education, culture, traditions, religion and Hebrew feature quite heavily in their work. It is currently taking place in Kosice, Budapest and Prague.

BBE also stages the BB Book Fair in Paris which is also specific to BBE.

The BB Europe Young Jewish Adult Forum, which this year takes place in London in mid-November,  is a pan-European annual event which is supported by BBE and BBUK and hopes to recruit younger potential members in the age group 25- 45.  More than 170 participants from 27 countries attended last year’s forum in Berlin

Lastly, BBE supports the work of the BB Europe Foreign Affair Network (FAN). It was created to pursue the following goals: to provide BBE with a political voice viz-a-vis the national governments in Europe and the European institutions. Yves told his audience: 'With more than 6000 members ins 29 European countries we are at the pulse of political life on the continent today. We want to inspire and attract young Jews to become politically active with a view to support Israel and to fight anti-Semitism and other human rights abuses.’

At the moment all activities are organised from Paris but there are plans to open offices in Rome, Sofia and Bucharest. Similar work is carried out in the UK by our own BB London Bureau of International Affairs.

BBE also has representation on the EU Commission and the EU Parliament.