What brings people together?
Sharing the same nationality and language? Having the same cultural background or political view? Or is it a common vision, a hope for a better future that individuals share, that connects them and forms a community?
This spring the war in Ukraine started and we have welcomed many very different people here in Brussels. Some Jewish some not, some spoke the same language, others didn’t. Nevertheless, we could not be happier to have these people here with us, because they did not only come here to survive, they also came here to thrive with us and showed us what we as a community are capable of when we come together around a common goal.
We are aware that we are not an organization dedicated to the work with refugees and there are already some organizations that see this as their main business. Nevertheless, it is important for us as a community center to respond to the situation within our means and to use our contacts in the community to help as many people as possible.
With your help, we have extended our Yahad – Together project and used our contacts in the community to create a network of homes to welcome refugees in Brussels and we are still overwhelmed by all the solidarity and care for one another you have shown!
We are working together with organizations at the Ukrainian border that are the first ones that welcome refugees and work on planting them. Overmore, we work closely together with a church that serves as a transit place for refugees. We at the EJCC work on matching the refugees with suitable hosts.
So many of you offered your help. You opened your houses, supported people by registering in the commune, got together to collect money, clothes, furniture and much more. Thank you!
Through all your support the EJCC managed to find homes for over 300 refugees here in Brussels. We made sure every Ukrainian kid that arrived was enabled to go to school and adapted to the needs of every kid, by placing some kids in Jewish schools and even enabling one child to attend a violin school here in Brussels where his talent is encouraged. Through this project we also encountered many absolutely amazing people. Our dear friend Naomie, who had to leave her home in the Ukrainian behind and now lives with a wonderful familie here in Brussels, already lightened up some of our events like Mega Challah Bake, or Nehama‘ programs in the Jewish school Ganenu, by playing her violin.
But we are far from taking a break!
We believe that at this point supporting people that escaped the horrors of war is about way more than helping them to survive. It is about helping them to thrive, by supporting them to integrate and including them into a vibrant community.
We were so happy that our Ukrainian friends already made many of our events, like Purim, the Mega Challah Bake or Pesach much brighter by celebrating with us! We want to keep on spreading this light and happiness together with them.This is why we are organizing a bunch of engaging events created to do exactly this.
We all know sports are an amazing way to bring people together, no matter their age, background or nationality. Therefore we made an arrangement with the community of Uccle through which we were able to invite refugees to run the 10 km Uccle run together with us and other members of the community for free. Together we formed a supportive team, which included 19 young Ukrainian athletes and in which we all came together around a shared goal.
After the run we brought everyone together to an extraordinary concert at the beautiful Berkovic residence. Maksym Syntytskyi is an outstanding violinist. At the age of only 17 he had to leave everything behind in Ukraine and came here to Brussels with his mother. However, his incredible talent for playing the violin has earned him a place in the Conservatoire Bruxelles.
Together with the extraordinary pianist Maria Martinova Maksym Maksym enchanted us with his soulful, touching music. Thanks to this concert we were able to support his talent and cannot wait to see his further career flourishing!
We are looking forward to keeping on creating an environment of empathy, groth and togetherness in which all of us can thrive together!
If you wish to host a refugee at your home, contact us directly: firstname.lastname@example.org
We hope and pray that, as President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said in the European Parliament, ”Light will win over darkness.”
May Hashem bring peace to our world!
By Linn Lämmle