The London-based European Council of Jewish Communities is opening an office in the German capital.
The Berlin office of the non-governmental Jewish organization, its first office on the European continent, opens officially with a gala ceremony on April 10. The new office represents the wish of the more than 40 member countries to have more contact with the organization, said Sarah Singer, director of the new office.
Singer, a board member of the Central Welfare Council of Jews in Germany, told JTA that ECJC hopes to open offices in other cities, including Prague, Kiev and Istanbul. Seed funding for the new office was provided by the German Federal Ministry of Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth.
The ECJC plans to create a network to facilitate youth exchange and cultural and religious programming. The council links such organizations as Keren Hayesod-United Israel Appeal and the Jewish National Fund, and sponsors the annual European Day of Jewish Culture . This year, the organization launched “Passport Europe: European Jews and Muslims Building a Brighter Future in Europe.” ECJC also launched a European Jewish environmental project through the JNF-Keren Kayemeth Le’Israel.
There are currently about 1.4 million Jews living in Europe and the former Soviet Union.
“We are not a lot of people, but we are well connected,” commented Singer. “Without the Diaspora, Israel can’t survive. So we have to be strong and open our mouths.”