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       european jewish heritage route
  european jewish heritage route  
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Starting from an annual initiative : the European Jewish Culture Day, the organisers of this action proposed to launch together a permanent cultural route linking Jewish heritage sites in order to welcome visitors and present the importance of Jewish culture to European culture as a whole.

After a period of discussion and preparation, this route was integrated to the programme in May 2004 and is based on local, regional and national initiatives in some European countries.

jewish heritage

Jewish culture and heritage are topics, which are widely debated within the Jewish arena but also across Europe as a whole. The idea however is to create the itinerary of Jewish heritage, which according to the Oxford Concise Dictionary, is the itinerary of “valued things, which have been passed down from previous generations”.

Being constantly reminded of Europe’s dark past in its relationship with the Jewish people, it is often thought that this is the sole relationship, which the continent has had with Jews. Without at all reducing the importance of the horrors of the Shoah on the Jewish people, this itinerary of Jewish heritage is an opportunity to show the richness of the Jewish contribution in Europe. The idea behind the creation of such an itinerary is thus, to adopt a more positive approach of the Jewish history in Europe as well as the history of the Jews in Europe.

Jewish Heritage is an integral part of European history and culture. Most of Jewish history and culture is rooted in Europe, with a story made of migrations, persecutions and precariousness, but also of exchanges, humanism and a profusion of mutual enrichment. Yet, for a long time, Jews of Europe were considered as a broken remnant of what had been an old and original tradition. Today, there are roughly 3 million Jews in Europe, and among them, a post-war generation of Jewish leaders is assuming increased professional and public responsibilities. A new identity is emerging of a strong, energetic, interconnected European Jewry, looking to its ancient roots and culture in Europe.

Gradually, Jewish Communities and their new leadership are discovering the overwhelming responsibility of protecting and enhancing Europe's Jewish heritage, forgotten or scattered throughout the continent, left largely abandoned by the destruction of Jewish life during the Shoah (Holocaust) and by Jews moving away from small towns to major cities.

Cimetière de Sarajevo. Photo Laure Amoyel.
Cemetery of Sarajevo. Photo Laure Amoyel.

an artistic and cultural heritage

In trying to define the notion of heritage in general and Jewish heritage in particular, one can envisage some other elements connected to the notion of heritage. For example, heritage may be connected to the topic of art. Jewish heritage incontestably has some artistic aspects. The variety of styles used for the ornament of cult places testifies of the various currents that staked out the history of art. One finds also many expressions of popular art there. Popular art makes Judaism appear like a dynamic cultural system of which the religious customs and the artistic shapes occur as the Jewish people are confronted to the different civilisations. They testify the fundamental unity of the religious experience of the Jews as well as the rich diversity of its artistic and ceremonial expressions at a time. They finally demonstrate that the spiritual Jewish community guides sanctioned the introduction of customs and shapes of new art forms; they also modified some existing ceremonies. They reinterpreted the significance and underlined the importance of their time.

But Jewish heritage encompasses actually a very wide variety of aspects, including any kind of traditions or forms of expression of the Jewish culture, like music, theatre, writing, philosophy, ethics, photography, sociology or languages like yiddish or ladino.

Synagogue of Sofia. Drawing Ivan Velikov.


Spanish synagogue.

This project participates in the education process on tolerance of the citizens. Indeed, knowing is already liking. On the opposite, the ignorance of the other citizens’ beliefs, customs and way of life leads to fear and intolerance. Thus, opening elements of the Jewish culture to the broad public is an intercultural learning process in a wider sense. It shows the diversity of Mankind, the richness of the customs of a minority. According to the philosopher Lévi-Strauss, the discovery of differences (otherness) is the discovery of a relationship, not of a barrier.

Religion is often thought of as having divided people. Historians remind us constantly of the importance and impact throughout Europe of the wars of religion. This Jewish itinerary proposes a different approach and highlights the federative factor of Judaism and the unity of the Jewish people throughout Europe and history. It offers the possibility to discover the many facets of the European identity and as well that of Judaism and the Jewish people. The itinerary will recreate a cross-cultural, pan European space in which European citizens can discover the variety and value of Jewish heritage throughout the European continent.

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 more infos ...
 other web sites
  The website of the European Day of Jewish Heritage
  The website of the European Council of Jewish Communities
  The website of B'nai B'rith Europe
  The website of the Red de Juderias
 editorial content
 the european jewish heritage route
 Lithuanian Jewish Heritage
 Certification for Jewish Heritage
  Address by Mrs Maud de Boer-Buquicchio at the ceremony (FR)
 Certification for Jewish Heritage
  Address by Mrs Maud de Boer-Buquicchio at the ceremony (EN)
 Seminar launching the route
  Summary and conclusions. June 2004
 The Route of Jewish Heritage
  Card presenting the route published by the Council of Europe, French version
 Route of Jewish Heritage
  Card presenting the route published by the Council of Europe, English version
 media library
 Dictionary of Jewish Lore
 Jüdische Kultur. Ein Überblick
 Jewish Identity and Culture


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