August 14, 2014

  • Jewish Community
  • ROI Community

Yvonne Feiger was born and raised in Vienna, Austria – where she spent most of her life. Yvonne engages with her environment; for the past years she has been working in the field of community organizing (in the Jewish and non-Jewish world) and was actively involved in establishing a number of organizations, political groups, and grassroots ventures - ranging from arts and culture to education and everyday life.

Humans are naturally involved in solving problems affecting their everyday life. They are investing time and effort in addressing local issues – the ones happening on their doorstep. For the obvious reasons, we regularly forget what’s happening around us. While we are committed to our cause and focused on our community needs and urgencies, we are occasionally thrown back on stage – often unexpectedly, every now and then intentionally; sometimes as an observer behind the scenes, sometimes as an extra in the background, and sometimes as an actor in the middle of the auditorium.

Just recently, the shooting in Belgium reminded me that Jewish institutions still face an undeniable risk and that life as a Jewish citizen is fragile, whereas the shooting in the United States reminded me that violent aggression is a frightening segment of human behavior, and that our society may be victim to male chauvinism forever.

The last international Jewish gathering I attended was the ROI Summit 2010. I was excited to join the Connection Point in Budapest in June 2014 and eager to enter the unique environment such events generate. Participating in global events always helps me to re-orient myself, to find my place, and to ground me – being in a room with people from all over the world is a personal invitation to look beyond my plate.

What I found lying around me on the table:

  1. American Jews can’t imagine that European Jewry is a diverse and lively crowd with a vibrant community life and a strong Jewish identity.

  2. Israeli Jews don’t learn anything about European communities aside from the fact that they have been destroyed during the Holocaust.

  3. Both believe it must be terrible to live in Europe.

  4. European Jews struggle with difficult or ambivalent feelings regarding their national belonging; however, they feel strongly committed to their local communities.

  5. All three Jewish centers heavily ignore the existence and distinctiveness of communities in the Jewish periphery (Asia, Australia, Latin America, South America, etc.).