The European Commission has announced that it will be supporting the creation of an awards scheme focused on Jewish cultural heritage. The idea to create such a scheme came about as a result of a proposal presented to the European Commission in October 2023 by the Foundation for Jewish Heritage.
The concept behind the Foundation’s proposal is to recognise and celebrate volunteer heritage champions who have been making a significant contribution to Jewish cultural heritage preservation in Europe. The European Commission statement was made in a communication to the European Parliament and the Council entitled, ‘No place for hate, a Europe united against hatred’. It was also highlighted in a recent speech made by European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.
Across the continent, there are many individuals who have been actively engaged in a whole range of activities to preserve historic synagogues, Jewish cemeteries and other Jewish monuments in places where often there is no local Jewish community as a result of the Holocaust. It is a mission to preserve the memory of a lost and often forgotten vibrant Jewish existence many centuries old. The awards scheme is to recognise those remarkable people who have dedicated themselves to this special mission, often over decades.
The European Commission is now determining how it will take forward the awards scheme which it will discuss with the Foundation and other organisations. Ultimately, the scheme will be subject to an open call.
Dame Helen Hyde, Chair of the Foundation for Jewish Heritage, remarked, ’We are delighted that the European Commission has taken up the Foundation’s proposal to create this important awards scheme. It will help to raise the profile of Jewish heritage preservation and highlight the value of this work.’
Michael Mail, Chief Executive of the Foundation, added, ‘This awards scheme will help bring the Jewish experience in Europe to the fore, and highlight the importance of preserving what is a substantial Jewish and European legacy. There are wonderful activists right across Europe who have committed many years to saving Jewish heritage sites in danger. They absolutely deserve to be acknowledged and celebrated.’