“‘cause I want to live here…”
The first Jewish Future Congress: A Success Story
Although after World War II and the Shoah it might have seemed unimaginable, in 2018, 80 years after the November Pogroms of 1938, Berlin is home to a vibrant and diverse Jewish population. Today, the memory of the destruction of Jewish life in Europe encounters a dynamic Jewish civil society. Across the spheres of religion, culture, business, politics, and science, young Jewish people have not only built their own multifaceted community; they now help shape our society as a whole, in Berlin and beyond.
The Jewish Future Congress took place from November 5 to 11. Initiated by the Leo Baeck Foundation in close cooperation with Berlin’s Senate Department for Culture and Europe, and supported by the Federal Agency for Civic Education, its focus centered around this new, diverse Jewish population—their viewpoints, their perspectives toward the future, and their tasks and challenges. The Central Council for Jews in Germany, an important partner, was also present, as were 35 additional partner institutions of the Congress.
The Congress, titled „Weil ich hier leben will…“ (“‘cause I want to live here…”), was directed primarily at a younger audience. A book with the same title, featured at the Congress, includes a collection of pieces by young intellectuals, who contemplate the nature of Jewish life in Germany and throughout Europe. Germany’s “Culture of Remembrance,“ religious pluralism, newly emergent political and interreligious alliances, Jewish civil society, anti-Semitism in Germany and throughout Europe, as well as approaches to the so-called refugee crisis – these were just a few of the subjects explored in this first Jewish Future Congress. 1,200 guests participated in the stimulating, and sometimes controversial, discussions and podiums. The first Jewish Future Congress also was met with large-scale, nationwide media coverage – another sign of success for the Congress, and a testament to the relevance of its concerns.