Why the Week of Jewish Culture is particularly important this year.
A contribution from museum director Dr Carmen Reichert
The museum team has been preparing events for the Jewish Culture Week Augsburg Swabia*23 together with cooperation partners throughout Swabia for months: We are planning concerts, lectures and workshops, have designed flyers and posters with a design agency and researched where to find delicious bagels and Swabian Shabbat bread made according to an old recipe in Augsburg. Because from 5 to 12 November 2023, the third Jewish Culture Week Augsburg Swabia was to take place under the motto “Bagel, Beer & Berches”, an event that presents and celebrates the rich and diverse heritage of the Jewish community in the region.
Then came 7 October 2023, when the Hamas attack on Israel shook us to the core. Is it appropriate to celebrate Jewish culture with such a joyful theme while Israeli hostages are held captive in Gaza’s tunnels, so many families are grieving for their loved ones and Jewish lives are under threat in many places around the world?
In Yiddish there is the word “daffke”. It means roughly “now more than ever!” We do not want to be intimidated by terror and violence! Rather, we are convinced that at a time when anti-Semitism and hatred are on the rise, it is more important than ever that Jewish cultural events take place – in public. After all, the Jewish Culture Week is not just a cultural event, but also part of our mandate to carry out educational work. It is designed to raise awareness of the history and present of the Jewish community in Swabia, showcase the diversity and richness of its culture and promote understanding and respect for its identity and religion. Finally, it is in keeping with the Jewish religion to celebrate life, even in the face of threats. Many Jewish holidays remind us of this. Am Israel Chai, the Jewish people are alive, is a song that can be heard these days in Israel and throughout the Jewish world.
We have used the days immediately following 7 October to adjust our security measures. We are grateful that the police are providing additional protection for our events as required and, above all, that the situation in Augsburg remains relatively calm. It is sad that we have to take these precautions, but the protection of our visitors and employees is the most important precondition for our work.
Together with the IKG Schwaben-Augsburg, we have decided to organise the Week of Jewish Culture despite all the events. Especially today, Jewish culture must remain visible and tangible!
The Week of Jewish Culture is also an invitation to anyone who is curious to learn more about Jewish culture and to be inspired by it. It is an opportunity to engage in dialogue and discover common ground. It is an opportunity to take a stand against anti-Semitism and hatred and to stand up for an open and diverse society. We are therefore looking forward to the events in the coming week and to your participation! Your support means more to us than ever these days.
The Week of Jewish Culture 2023 is being coordinated by the Jewish Community of Swabia-Augsburg and the Jewish Museum Augsburg Swabia. We are cooperating with numerous partners throughout Swabia in order to reach a broad audience. You can find the full programme of events here.