Launched in 1996 in the Bas-Rhin (Alsace/France),
under the Open Day formula by the Jewish association B'nai B'rith
Hirschler in Strasbourg, in partnership with the Agence de
Développement Touristique du Bas-Rhin, each summer many
Jewish sites were open to the public. Animations were organised
around these sites, like tours, lectures, concerts etc. Volunteers
gave explanations. Leaflets or brochures were distributed. It was a
great success. Indeed, in Alsace 200 sites have been
During that Day, Jewish site such as synagogues,
cemeteries, ritual baths, museums, former Jewish quarters usually
closed to the public were opened. Cultural animations centred on
Jewish culture were organised in numerous places (concerts,
exhibitions, conferences, official ceremonies, etc.)
Contacts where then made with neighbouring regions
in Germany and Switzerland. The event was broadened three years
later to the whole of France, Germany, Switzerland, Italy and
Spain. In 2000 eleven new countries contributed to the European
development of this initiative.
It became a truly trans-national project with the
European Day of Jewish Culture 2000.
the Four co-ordinating organisations
The Day is co-ordinated by four organisations:
l'Agence de Développement Touristique du Bas-Rhin (ADT),
B'nai B'rith Europe, the European Council of Jewish
Communities and Red de Juderias de Espana-Caminos de
One can see from the description of these
organisations that both Jewish and non-Jewish organisations are
involved. The strength of this network can be found in its
diversity. The Spanish and French touristic agencies have
contributed to the project. Only these are capable of granting a
professional dimension to the project, by creating appropriate
programmes to the organised tours.
The two European Jewish organisations are active
at the European level and use their contacts to mobilise their
members so as to organise the Day at the grass-root level. As
non-governmental organisations, their experience is valuable.
Numerous other organisations participate at the
local level, including various organisations and Jewish
communities. This variety testifies of the potential of this
The logo of the Council of Europe's campaign
entitled "Europe- a common heritage" was granted to the European
Day of Jewish Culture.
evaluation of the day
Globally, the Day with the creation of its
European status is a great success. It consists in 500 activities
organised across 200 European cities thanks to the important
mobilisation of Jewish communities, villages/towns, organisations,
museums, tourist agencies and especially volunteers. It gathers
approximately 150 000 visitors each year who attend these Days to
discover or re discover the architectural, artistic, historical and
religious heritage. The big majority of the visitors are non Jewish
and are mainly local inhabitants.
The European co-ordinators co-ordinate this event,
by keeping in touch with all the countries involved. The entire
programme of this European Day of Jewish Culture is included on the
web-site of Jewish heritage in Europe.
goals of the day
The main goals of the European Day of
Jewish Culture are:
- To gather and to sensitise Europeans to a common historic and
cultural heritage, in a mind of tolerance and dialogue,
- Facilitate the access of all to culture,
- Highlight the necessity to preserve this heritage of the
destruction and the oblivion,
- Develop the European tourism around culture.
The European Day of Jewish Culture is also the
result of the emergence of new dynamics of co-operation between
countries and regions which participate at the same time to one
Poster of the day
The European Day of Jewish Culture entails also
the use and promotion of the new technology: these exchanges which
are mainly done by electronic mail, the CD Roms which permit a
multilingual adaptation of posters and programmes, Internet on
which will be distributed all activities of the Day...
La Journée Européenne de la Culture
Juive, enfin, résulte de l'implication d'un grand nombre de
pays engagés dans le processus d'élargissement et de
réalisation de l'intégration européenne.
Beyond this extraordinary day devoted to the
encounter with the public, the organisers wished to promote and
help preserve the Jewish heritage, which is an integral part of
Europe's cultural heritage.
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