Brandeis Europe?

EUJS meeting in Greece

Eveline Goodman-Thau speaks about the role of women in Judaism to a group of about 25 European Jews at an annual students’ conference, held this year in Greece. (Alex Weisler)

For the last 10 years, Eveline Goodman-Thau has had a complex goal in mind: a multinational, pan-European graduate school dedicated to the intersection between religion and public life.

"That’s what we need — like a Brandeis," said Goodman-Thau, one of the teachers at this week’s Summer U held by the European Union of Jewish Students in Greece. "It’s just at the threshold of happening."

Goodman-Thau is a Holocaust survivor — she hid with her family in Holland — who has been living in Israel on and off since the 1950s while also teaching and studying at a host of universities across Europe and the United States.

Lately, she has been fascinated by the idea of marrying "human values and public policy" in the age of globalization.
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Speaking excitedly as we shared lunch at a hotel that is the main site of Summer U activities she told me she envisions a graduate program based in Berlin but incorporating students and professors from around the world.

Goodman-Thau has colleagues in Prague, Vienna, Rome and Paris who have expressed interest in the idea, she said, and now the quest is to secure funding and lock down accreditation.

The program is especially crucial in these uncertain times, Goodman-Thau said, referencing the always-tense situation in the Middle East and the economic crisis currently gripping the Western World.

"We need this as a political force. We need to have Jewish youth speaking for Jewish matters," she said. "The historical developments that we are facing right now show the urgency and the relevance of the program."

After her talk this morning on the role of women in Judaism, Goodman-Thau addressed the 25 young Jews from countries as disparate as Canada and Estonia and mentioned the program, inviting anyone interested to speak with her.

About three people approached her after the talk.

That’s one of the most exciting things I’m discovering about spending this week at Summer U: the ability to watch networking action and witness interesting connections being made across European Jewry.

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