European Jewish umbrella body is re-established


BERLIN (JTA) — After months of turmoil, a communal umbrella organization for Europe’s Jewish communities was re-established in Paris.

The European Council of Jewish Communities was re-established with 20 member organizations that approved articles of association at a board meeting last week.

Rather than political matters, the council will focus on its original mandate, including Jewish education, welfare and heritage for member communities.

The American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, following a hiatus of a few years, returned as a funder.

Real estate lawyer Evan Lazar, a founder of the Czech Jewish communal organization Bejt Praha, was elected as president at the meeting. Newly elected vice presidents are Marguerite Zauberman, who serves on the board of the Paris-based United Jewish Social Fund, and Alexander Oscar, president of the Jewish Community of Sofia, Bulgaria.

Igor Kolomoisky, who had been named president of the ECJC during its meetings last fall in Berlin, had withdrawn from the position and started another organization, the London-based European Jewish Union, with fellow Ukrainian billionaire philanthropist Vadim Rabinovitch, a former ECJC vice president.

Many ECJC members had resigned following the naming of Kolomoisky as president last fall, objecting to the manner in which he was chosen and fearing that he would take the organization in a more political direction.

Some members decided to "do our best to rebuild the organization," Oscar told JTA in a telephone interview.

An interim board was elected during a meeting Jan. 30 in Milan; its members designed a new structure for the organization. All bank accounts were closed and the organization was reincorporated, Oscar said, and meetings with Kolomoisky and Rabinovitch were positive.

"We are working toward rebuilding the image," Oscar said, "and we are perfectly aware that it will take some time until the communities that were disappointed and resigned will believe in the ECJC again and rejoin the organization."

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