‘My dear friends,
It is a great pleasure for me to be back here at the MJC for my 4th time and I am so happy to see so many familiar and new faces.
We have now arrived to the 5th day of the conference and I think you will all agree that we have certainly been through some very difficult moments together, especially today when we heard “Combatants for Peace” and from Helga Kingsky who survived the Shoah. I have been part of the MJC since its first year; when I was studying in Vienna, in 2010 as an undergraduate student.
I had no idea what to expect; I was a Jewish girl who had grown up in Hungary who had (to be honest) never spoken to Muslims before.
Over the past 4 years I have had the unbelievable privilege to be a part of this community and through it I have met so many inspirational people; most of whom are in the room today. I want you all to know how grateful I am to you for challenging my world-view on so many levels and constantly inspiring me each and every day.
Today, I am standing here before you as President of the World Union of Jewish Students, the umbrella body for 48 member unions from 5 continents; representing Jewish students from all over the world.
I am extremely happy to have with us Jewish and Muslim student activists who came here from all across the globe, France, the UK, Belgium, Australia, South Africa, Pakistan, Turkey and so many other places.
I truly hope that you will return home inspired and ready to share this experience with your peers, I have no doubt that it will enrich your work and your activism.
As I mentioned previously it was a challenging morning and for some of us felt that we didn’t get a full picture about the Middle-East conflict.
This was the first time MJC have actively brought the Israel-Palestine conflict to its program and as Ilja said, Combatants for Peace was invited to share their stories and experiences. Although I might not agree with everything what they said, I personally learned a lot from their presentation.
What I can say is that the World Union of Jewish Students has been involved with MJC from the beginning, and although, at times we have both agreed and disagreed with things that others have said, we always had the opportunity to voice our opinions in a safe place.
MJC prides itself on it’s incredibly respectful environment and I encourage you to feel free to speak your minds. You all came a long way already and by coming here you have shown that you are ready to be challenged and I commend you for that.
I was reminded by Ben earlier, that today is the Jewish festival of TuB’Av. Originally as the post-biblical day of joy, it served as a matchmaking day for unmarried women during the second Temple period. Although I am glad that this mating ritual is not part of our tradition, today TuB’Av is a holiday of love and in Israel it is celebrated somewhat like Valentine’s Day.
I believe that there is no better message I could end this speech with than with the words of Elie Wiesel: “The opposite of love is not hate, it is indifference”.
As graduates of this conference I urge you not to be indifferent. By coming here you have made the first step and you have proved that you are not indifferent. Now though is the time to start loving. You need to use this conference as a starting point for building a new kind of love. A love which will break down walls between and within our communities; a love that crosses all boundaries and a love that creates space for us to learn and grow together.’
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