WHAT WE DO - Public Policy
Report for the Bridges of Tolerance project
In order to achieve our aims, the project has two components: cultural shows and workshops with panel discussions.
In Bucharest Romania, we worked together with our representative, the President of B’nai B’rith, Forum Dr. Moses Rosen, Jose Iacobescu. Due to his tremendous effort and extensive network, all doors to the government Ministries, Parliament and Presidency were open for us.
June 3d. morning
The first day opened at the Ministry of Culture with the theme: The role of Education in combating anti-Semitism and the importance of keeping the Memory of the Holocaust Alive. Participated around 650 persons. The workshop was organized by BB Romania in collaboration with the Lauder school complex President and the Minister of Culture. 450 students from various high schools from the Bucharest region took part in this event. First we watched a short documentary about the life of a Holocaust survivor; then the students commented on the film. After a short break, three survivors of the Holocaust in Romania, at age 92-94, came to tell their stories live. After another short break, the Minister of Culture, several academicians, history professors, the inspector of education responsible for the school books, spoke of the Holocaust and the importance of educating the young. We closed with a light lunch.
June 3d. evening
The official opening took place at the National Opera House (capacity 1000 people). It was opened by Jose Iacobescu, BB Romania, myself, the 1st Councilor of the President of Romania and the Speaker of the Romanian Parliament. The Councilor read a message from the President, saying that from next year they would be honored if we accept the project to be under the
High Patronage of the President (of course we accepted the offer). After the speeches, we could enjoy an opera and operetta concert of one and half hour, with 12 different soloists of the Opera House. The evening ended with champagne cocktails.
June 4th, morning
The workshop was held at the Parliament, under the auspices of the Speaker of the House. Here we had three sessions:
1. The contributions of the Jews to the Romanian culture: literature, arts. Speakers: the Minister of Culture, the president of the Federation of Romanian Jewish Communities, Prof. in Anthropology, specialists in literature and painting; this was followed by discussions.
2. The role of Law and Order; Legislation on Hate crime. Speakers: the President of the Parliament, the President of the Court of Magistrates, the Chief Inspector of Police. Followed by discussions.
3. Ethics and Philosophy: An Inter-Faith Dialogue: debate on tolerance/intolerance, mutual respect in a cultural diversity. Speakers: the Director of the Romanian National Institute for the Study of the Holocaust, Elie Wiesel, Dean of the Faculty of Philosophy, Bucharest University, the office of the Patriarch of Romania. Followed by discussion.
June 4th, evening: dinner with the international guests
June the 5th morning:
Workshop at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs: The role of Diplomacy
Speakers: the Minister of Foreign Affairs, ex-Minister of Foreign Affairs, Undersecretary of State, myself, head of Romanian IHRA delegation; head of Hungarian IHRA delegation; it was followed by discussion. It ended with a lunch/buffet offered by the ministry.
Departure of the international guests: BB representatives from Bulgaria, Slovakia, Poland, friends from Turkey and the University of Bologna (department of education of religions); head of IHRA delegation of Hungary (International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance, they have the presidency of IHRA this year; next year will be Romania).
Among the audience were Ambassadors, representatives of the political life, Academia, Art world, other religious denominations, TV, Press, Municipality etc. and the 450 high school students.
All press was positive. Video, photos and press (all in Romanian) will be sent to me shortly.
My thanks go to Jose Iacobescu and his team without whose help and hard work none of this would have been realized.
Erika van Gelder BBE president
Read this poem written by Erika Van Gelder : The Silence
It started with some small incidents
“ It’s nothing, it’s just a rogue”,
Broken windows in Synagogues,
“Kids playing ball”,
Swastikas on Jewish tombs,
"They’ll get those hooligans”,
Old men were beaten, young girls were raped
“It can’t get any worst”,
They prayed …
Then, in the night the sirens blared
By dawn they were in Dante’s flames.
Yet come the morrow,
Nothing was said and nothing was done…
Only the wind and smoke
Broke the silence
of their sorrow.
Erika van Gelder