A few days ago, the 10th “Nevatim” Conference was held in Düsseldorf, Germany. Despite the time that passes, the echo of this event continues to grow. Ideas for new projects continue their journey, outreach to further communities continues to grow, and the European Jewish world continues to be celebrated despite the rise of anti-Semitism! The “Nevatim” conference was held with the support of the “Genesis” Philanthropy Group and for the first time Albania was among the 120 participants from 13 countries, including Germany, Austria and Eastern Europe who raised their flags with the winning projects in this celebration. Present Mrs. Klodeta Cane, Representative of the First Albanian Historical-Cultural Project of Jewish/Jewish Voices for “Nevatim”, tells the Albanian Diaspora more about the conference, the organization and its mission.
Ms. Can you tell us a little more. What is “Nevatim” and the role of this organization?
Nevatim is a program of the Jewish Agency for Israel that supports initiatives in their informal Jewish education, turning the motivation and ideas of many activists in the age between 18 and 35 into successful projects, offering financial support for the implementation and providing a network interconnectivity as a bridge between nations, cultures, and disciplines.
What does the Nevatim conference represent for you?
It was a special event because of the celebration of the marvelous opportunity to gain a rich overview over the main activities and the contribution of Nevatim throughout the last 10 years, gaining insights into the many aspects of community engagement, values of volunteering, combating xenophobia and anti-Semitism, as well as the future in Germany.
More and more independent organizations and initiative groups, as well as more than 150 alliances and associations nationwide have emerged over the years in areas of dealing with Jewish youth education, diverse Jewish ways of life, practicing Judaism and the meaning of Jewish identity.
I was happy to witness the crowning of 10 years of Nevatim work, which reflected 10 years of extraordinary determination and responsibility in Jewish activism and social engagement and fighting xenophobia and anti-Semitism.
What was the format of the conference?
The conference was organized in the form of an encounter between generations and cultures, projects, and activities such as creative and interactive workshops with top speakers, joint discussions, and exchanges, as well as guided tours.
The organization of the event was characterized by interactive and increasingly networking-focused collections of subjects, and a varied program of many illuminating parallel sessions, such as: project management tips, round table discussion about Israel and the community, fake news about Israel, crisis response, Empowering Jewish Voices, a discussion on justice and global responsibility and a session on the podcast project “beyond all frameworks”, sessions which gave our participants great tools to combat antisemitism, a creative J-Fashion Workshop, a discussion about the Tiers of Community engagement, a communal prayer, a panel on the Future of the Jewish Community in Europe etc.
The first day of the conference culminated with a joyous concert celebrating Shabbat.
Shabbat is Judaism’s festive day as a contemplation of the spiritual aspects of life and spending time with family, resting from the regular labors of everyday life, remembering the miraculous biblical stories describing the creation of the heaven and earth in six days and the redemption from slavery and oppression (Exodus from Egypt), and looking forward with expectation to a future Messianic Age.
What was the most touching segment of the conference?
One of the most moving segments of the second day was the fascinating gala show featuring the Nevatim movie: “The Seed.” The movie was filled with symbolic elements of Torah stories in order to explain the mission of Nevatim. Torah (in Judaism) is the law of God as revealed to Moses and recorded in the first five books of the Hebrew scriptures (the Pentateuch).
“The miracle seed” was brought to life by divine inspiration and protected in the holy earth in the desert by the founding mothers of Nevatim. The powerful impact of the seed started to change the nature of the desert and soon a rainbow, symbolizing the divine promise for new beginning as in the Torah story of Noah, caused the seed to sprout, full of life.
The sprout carries a power that gives comfort, and helps whoever approaches to get through dark times. Representing a symbolic analogy to the Torah itself, its bloom is described as a medical plant giving AHAVAH (love), SIMCHA (joy), HATZLACHA (success) and NACHAT (satisfaction), for as the buds open, so do the souls of its admirers. The network of the plant’s roots protects people even today. From generation to generation the story of the tree is retold and the gratitude of mankind for its grassroots endures for all eternity.
The event stood out by its high level of multi-disciplinary approach with rich, dynamic, and diversified content.
Nevatim offered meaningful, comfortable, and strategic facilities by using the inspiring and the well-adaptable areas of the Jewish community Dusseldorf. The accommodation was in luxury hotel standard.
What was the funniest session of the conference?
The funniest session for me was the educational-humorous method of telling the story of the weekly parsha (the reading and interpretation of the Weekly Torah study portion from the Shabbat celebration on Friday evening).
It was a thought-provoking, profound story on the topic of “Marriage” during a moment of a joyful gathering around the table, which sparked beautiful discussions.
I can describe it as a moment of unique attachment reflecting a picture of various members of a family linked by blood ties, fulfilling different life-projects.
The presenter did a great job at catching everybody’s attention by his comic description of the teaching.
The story described a prudent wife disclosing a 50-year-old secret to her husband, around a coping mechanism she had developed in order to keep a successful marriage by using a healthy way of deferring the emotional burden of his anger.
The wife earned a considerable amount of money by selling her embroidery in which she was “knitting the victory over her difficult feelings,” as a well-thought-out response, every time she needed to face an angry husband.
Going forward focused in her profitable emotional and financial growth, the wise woman kept turning the challenging times into inspirational opportunities for the creation of the beautiful embroidery. It can nowadays be considered as an innovative business method, reaping great rewards. The funny part of it was the fact that selling the extraordinary amount of her knitting corresponded to her immense patience towards her husband, the explanation of which the husband could have never guessed.
Which other partners of Nevatim joined the conference?
Another top-name partner was HIAS Europe. HIAS is an organization which provides vital services to refugees and asylum seekers around the world. Its main topic was the humanitarian crisis and refugee aid in the context of the Ukraine war.
The representatives of HIAS ran five different workshops, spreading awareness about what it means to be a refugee, talking about how to engage communities in response to crises, and discussing the role of Jews and Judaism in handling crises.
The conference lasted just the right time and the scheduling of the activities was perfectly synchronized.
The food was a delight as well. Thank you to Nevatim!
Photos courtesy of Ilja Kagan.