by Camille Grahame
We can hardly escape the national debate underway regarding our relationship with the rest of Europe. Our identity within the world is under scrutiny and I can’t help but think about my personal identity in this aspect.
The tragedy of the Shoah often takes centre stage when discussing European Jewry and, in many instances, takes a formative role in our personal stories.
This changed for me last summer, when I had the amazing opportunity to take a group of 30 teenagers to Europe with RSY-Netzer and LJY-Netzer. Kayitz-Netzer is a 10-day tour visiting Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia and Austria, and we have just launched this year’s trip.
Exploring the untrodden path of Jewish history brought up passionate opinions about our place in Europe and as the Jewish people as a whole. It allowed us to meet and learn from Jewish communities in this area, seeing the impact of recent conflicts.
I’m always amazed and inspired by the intrinsic connection the Jewish people have with each other, and how this bond can transcend barriers of language and national culture.
Sharing this common ground with people from completely different circumstances and worlds, made me wonder about what other hidden connections we may share with others, and how we can look past any differences.
While in Bosnia and Herzegovina, we heard first-hand experiences and saw the remnants of a brutal war that took many lives.
The anger and hate that people had in their lives was appropriated by politics and used as a way to drive people apart, rather than together. I would hope that we have learnt from the past, and as individuals – no matter the outcome of the referendum – be more open to embracing our relationship with Europe and what this has to offer for everyone.
• Camille Grahame is an RSY-Netzer movement worker