Message of Rabbi Avi Tawil at EuroChanukah Tribute To Simone Veil. Hosted by Commissioner Pierre Moscovici in the European Commission.
This evening we commemorate the holiday of Chanukah, as others on these lands have for 2000 years in times of peace and in times of adversity.
Celebrating here with you Mr Moscovici- in this living monument to peace which is the European Union, has a very special significance.
Your excellencies, dear friends,
We find ourselves in the time of the year for all to gather friends and family to share the warmth of our homes, the beauty of tradition, long awaited gifts and delicious foods. Indeed the favorite time of the year for Children.
Chanukah celebrates light! The light of education as the word itself indicates: Chanukah comes from Chinuch – Education in Hebrew.
It symbolizes the light of Freedom as we commemorate the victory of those who fought for their rights and Freedom of religion. The Candelabra, represents the Menorah that they rekindled in Jerusalem following their victory.
But for us today, beyond history, it is about the ideals that these candles represent: The 8 branches of the Menorah signify Diversity. Each light, each person has something special and unique that only he or she can bring to this world. And all the lights are stronger when they unite in the centre.
The EU is writing a new chapter in the history of Humanity, showing to the world how different cultures languages and nationalities are not a reason to stand against each other in opposition.
Instead the EU is about standing side by side and working together for a shared vision. We learn to work hand in hand and listen to each other . Our diversity and our different perspectives, then, become our unique strength.
So what brings us together here today is not just the past. We are indeed narrating the future of Europe. A Europe where regardless of the holiday you celebrate, your religion or the lack of it, and ideology you ascribe to: you are part of this family. We are all in this together. We are all equally responsible for our future.
The narrative of tomorrow depends in the values we embrace today, in our courage to stand for what is right and in our mutual respect.
Chanukah means education as the success of freedom is dependent in the ongoing education of ourselves of that of the next generation.
Education requires long term vision, strategy and patience. Not just reacting to events in the world, as urgent as may it be. We know where we are heading: To a Europe where there is a place for each one of us and we all have a role to play. A Europe that is respectful to diversity. A European project that changes the way humans look at each other, that inspires a young generation to shape generations to come and makes their lives worthy of living them.
But how can Europe be in “forward looking mode” when the heavy baggage of history this old continent carries, is not always glorious?
You would think that SIMONE VEIL, A survivor from the Auschwitz concentration camp who lost many members of her family during the Holocaust and who saw the destruction of her world in from of her eyes would be bitter. After all, she lived during the darkest side of humanity, In a France where many institutions and private citizens collaborated to send people to their deaths, as many French Presidents have already acknowledged.
Instead, with a positive spirit and hope, she was determined to build a Europe where old animosities were no more. She was a pioneer. Bringing equal right for women to the centre of political debate and defending peoples freedoms irrespective of background faith or gender.
And her legacy exists today in the very buildings, and the ideas that we finds ourselves in tonight.
So we do not have to hope for a better future, we have to take a leaf our of Simon Veil’s book and design and shape one for ourselves.
It is what my ancestors did 2200 years ago and is the shared task of all of us here today.