Taking place in more than two dozen countries across the continent, the EDJC has become Europe’s most successful cross-border Jewish cultural initiative.
It officially kicks off this year on September 1 — but in some countries events sprawl far beyond that, extending well into the autumn. (In fact, it’s now called the European DAYS of Jewish Culture.)
JHE Director Ruth Ellen Gruber took part in the meeting in January 1999 that established the EDJC and looks back here at its inception and evolution.
In the wake of the Holocaust, Jewish built heritage in Europe was largely ignored — or dismissed — until the latter part of the 1980s. That was particularly true in Communist eastern Europe, but also was manifest in western European countries.
In recent decades, she writes, an overriding aim of many Jewish heritage projects has been to stress the place of Jewish history, heritage and culture as an integral part of European history, culture and heritage as a whole.
The EDJC has been one of the most ambitious projects along these lines. Aimed mainly at local people, it has sought to educate about the role of Jewish heritage, culture, and history in local, regional, and Europe-wide context, in order to demystify the Jewish world and promote understanding in countries where, in most cases, few Jews live..