With no infrastructure for Kosher products, Rabbi Zevi Ives, Executive Director of JEP (Jewish European Professionals), was not fazed by the daunting challenge of providing large quantities of Kosher food in Dubrovnik, Croatia for more than 100 attendees over the four-day JEP event which took place on October 25-28. The Radisson Blu Resort hotel agreed to cater Kosher for the first time in its history, and purchased new kitchenware for the occasion. The ingredients and cooking process were all overseen by JEP volunteer Shimon Klein, after meticulously koshering the hotel kitchen. But the preparation began over a month earlier.
“Okay, thank you anyway,” as Klein hung up the phone from the eighth shipping company; he began to despair of sending a pallet of frozen Kosher meat to Croatia. Croatia is currently not part of the EU, raising multiple complications for importing meat.
Finally, he struck gold. One company was able to take care of the shipping and all the various paperwork from Berlin. The meat was sent from Lithuania to Berlin where the shipping company took over. Much relieved, Klein turned his attention to other arrangements with the hotel banqueting department.
On the Thursday before the event, the meat was scheduled to arrive. Instead however, on the Friday morning, the JEP office in Brussels received a surprising phone call. “We are sorry, but we are unable to complete the shipping. We are missing some paperwork. The meat is in Ljubljana you will have to come and get it from here.”
After much aggravation, an alternate driver was eventually found and the meat arrived at its final destination late Tuesday, the night before cooking preparations for the JEP event were to begin.
JEP arranged dairy products, other kosher items, and even a Torah scroll to be brought from Belgium to Dubrovnik. Kosher wine and items including prayer books, prayer shawls and skullcaps were also brought to the Radisson Blu where a synagogue was set up for the occasion.
The event itself featured two qualified coaches who offered lectures on topics like communication in business, headhunting, and psychology of relationships as well as private sessions in the areas of business, life coaching and relationships.
Excursions along the coast of Croatia included day trips to medieval Dubrovnik and the city of Ston. The visit to Dubrovnik featured its beautiful synagogue which is the oldest Sephardic synagogue still in use in the world and the second oldest synagogue in Europe. Additionally, JEP visited the Old Town of Dubrovnik with its fortresses, imposing walls, palaces, bell tower and small streets. JEP participants braved the steep climb along the quaint Ston walls – the longest wall in the world second only to the Great Wall of China. They also visited the Ston salt pans where 27 tons of salt are harvested by hand each day during the summer months with its production techniques dating back to the Middle Ages.
JEP, a sister organization of ECJS (European Center of Jewish Students), is an international, non-profit organization based in Brussels, Belgium which provides young professionals, aged 27-39 personal and professional networking opportunities. It is designed to create a vibrant young Jewish community focused on making a positive contribution to the world. The organization will be holding three major European events each year.