Young Jewish Thinkers Gathered to Explore Jewish Life in the Venetian Ghetto


Liana Jagniatinsky is a Jewish activist living in Lithuania. She works in the field of communication and at the same time leads the Lithuanian-Israeli Chamber of Commerce. A few years ago, she founded a Jewish women's organization in Vilnius. Liana has been a member of ROI Community since 2010. She is also actively involved in some other global and local non-profit Jewish organizations.

Over 60 young, enthusiastic, intelligent, dedicated people from 20 countries gathered this year in the Paideia (the European Institute for Jewish studies in Sweden) alumni conference. The location of this meeting was chosen carefully and with a clear purpose: to discover the Venetian Ghetto, to face its wealth, spirituality and mystery. This annual conference brought amazing Paideia alumni from different European countries to meet, to discuss and to learn together. Combined with the special atmosphere of Jewish Ghetto, this gathering was turned into an unforgettable experience.

The participants of the conference were hosted by the Venice Center for International Jewish Studies. All the participants were welcomed by Barbara Spectre, Paideia's Founding Director, and Diane Wohl, patron of the Paideia Alumni Association. The program of the conference included lectures of noted guests, such as Naomi Alderman (author and Professor of Creative Writing, England), Jean-Jaques Wahl (Secretary of the European Association for Jewish Culture, France), alumni presentations, networking and study sessions. The participants shared their ideas in the presentations, such as: "Who We Are - A Video About the 3rd Generation Jews in Budapest," presented by Andrea Ausztrics; "Discover the Stories of Pre-War Towns in Poland," presented by Albert Stankowski; "Ukrainian Jews and Anti-Semitism: Immigration and Reality," by Anna Abakunova; and others. We were discussing Jewish life in today's Europe, while at the same time being part of the place that whispers about 500 years of vibrant local Jewish history. 

The conference was enriched with additional activities, including dinners with members of the local Jewish community, a tour of the Jewish Ghetto and breathtaking synagogues, and a traditional Shabbat service at the famed Spanish Synagogue.

I applied for an ROI Micro Grant in the field of Jewish education. Thanks to the Micro Grant program I was able to travel and discover the old and new Venice Ghetto. It started almost five centuries ago, and still can be a center of learning through a renewed encounter between residents and visitors, who can live, learn and create together.