Over the past fifteen years, a revival of Jewish life has spread across Europe, one that is rooted in its 2,000-year heritage, reflects the diversity of contemporary Jewish thought and experience, and reflects the hope for a promising future.
Quietly, and in small pockets across the continent, Jewish social entrepreneurs have been experimenting with new forms of communities and organizations designed to engage a new generation of Jews, their partners and friends in meaningful Jewish experiences.
Conventional discussions of Europe often emphasise antisemitism, Jewish continuity, and anti-Israel activism. While we do not dismiss or diminish those concerns, we know that these are only part of the story. The European Jewry we know is confident, vibrant, and growing.
from the Overview:
As the 21st century unfolds, European Judaism and Jewish life are reclaiming what was so violently stolen over the course of the previous hundred years: a wellspring of cultural inspiration and spiritual creativity. On the continent, from the ashes of war and reconstruction, of the Shoah and state socialism, of antisemitism and social exclusion, new generations of Jewish leaders are taking their future into their own hands and building the communities they want for themselves and their children. In the UK, as institutions of 19th and 20th century Judaism grapple with shifts in Jewish demography, identity and community, an entire landscape of new Jewish initiatives has emerged. Like their counterparts across the Atlantic and in growing numbers around the globe, these bootstrap efforts not only address programming and service gaps in existing institutions, but also make new claims about what Judaism and Jewish life should mean in contemporary Europe. The political and economic integration of Europe, alongside ever-adapting new technologies, provides the platform for individuals and groups to express their needs and values beyond and in spite of traditional boundaries.
Hundreds of independent Jewish initiatives have been launched, many dedicated to specific niches and interests within the broader architecture of Jewish life. They vary in size, from large-scale organisations reaching thousands to people to intimate gatherings in private homes. However, their impact does not depend on their size, but rather on their quality and adaptability, and their capacity to embody the values and worldviews of their founders and participants. Together with their funders, supporters, participants and beneficiaries they form a European Jewish innovation ecosystem, a vital network that develops, promotes and diffuses new ideas, technologies, products and services.
Here are the reports key findings:
- Europe is witnessing a revival of contemporary Jewish life through the emergence of hundreds of new initiatives reaching hundreds of thousands of people.
- The vast majority of new Jewish initiatives describe their primary areas of focus as Jewish education, arts and culture, or community building. Inter-group and interreligious relations are a higher priority than diversity issues within the Jewish community.
- New European Jewish initiatives connect people across broad differences in age and affiliation.
- European Jewish startups are dependent primarily on foundation largesse and grassroots labour to sustain themselves. Although they operate independently of communal structures, they do not have a broad base of individual supporters.
- European Jewish startup leaders bring strong educational backgrounds and professional expertise to their ventures.
- European Jewish startup leaders are the beneficiaries of significant investments in their educational and professional development, especially Jewish learning and leadership.
- European Jewish startup founders and leaders are actively engaged in Jewish life and practice; they tend to affiliate with progressive and secular/cultural forms of Judaism.
The complete report, The 2010 Survey of New Jewish Initiatives in Europe, is available for download – scroll down to locate.