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International Jewish Leaders Plan Centers to Link Continents

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Jewish communal leaders from Europe, North America, North Africa and Israel are planning a program to link Jewish community centers with their counterparts on other continents.

The new program, the Tri-Center Project, will link Jewish community centers throughout the world in groups of three so that the participants can learn from one another through various exchanges.

The idea had great appeal.

Our members “know something about Israeli Jewish life, but not much about Europe,” said Alan Mann, executive director of the Boston Jewish Community Center.

His center agreed to form a trilateral group with Rome and the community of Ramat HaSharon in Israel.

The proposed project was among several topics discussed here last weekend at a meeting of the World Confederation of Jewish Community Centers, whose global focus was the future direction of Jewish communal life.

“Our goal is to bring people together, and also to train professionals in Israel,” said Asher Tarmon, associate director of the World Confederation.

Tarmon said the organization hopes to establish 10 tri-centers that will bring together 30 communities.

The project offers an unusual opportunity to learn cultural differences and share Jewish unity among such disparate places as Azerbaijan, Croatia, England, Estonia, France, Georgia, Greece, Hungary, Israel, Italy, Morocco, Russia, Spain, Yugoslavia and the United States.

JEWISH COMMUNITIES FACE SAME PROBLEMS

Mann, who spent much of his time here getting to know members of Rome’s Jewish community, stumbled onto the idea of the tri-centers.

“It almost happened by accident,” Mann said. “We were invited to this meeting and saw that they would be talking about tri-centers.

“I contacted people and found that it would be possible for us to join a group.”

So far, said Mann “there is no preset notion of what it will be like. We just cemented the idea a couple of weeks ago.

“It will be a lot of education, and lot of getting to know each other,” he said.

In another effort to strengthen cooperation among Jewish communities, the European Council of Jewish Communities decided to formally constitute a new Mediterranean regional grouping.

This is the third cooperation project for the European Council, said its president, David Lewis.

Other projects link Central Europe, Scandinavia and the Baltics.

The new Mediterranean grouping brought together representatives from Jewish communities in southern France, Greece, Italy, Spain and Morocco.

The delegates attending the meeting here found they all face the same problems in their communities: assimilation, intermarriage and how to attract young people.

The participants hope to implement a broad series of exchanges next year, including summer camps for children, study groups and even a New Year’s weekend for young adults in Spain.

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