JDC’s outreach initiative aims to bring Jewish tradition and culture to people where they are, often in alternative spaces outside of conventional centers of Jewish life. Today, programming such as street festivals are giving Jewish communities across Europe the resources to educate, entertain, and inspire their fellow Jews. JDC, in partnership with local Jewish community organizations, brings “Judaism without walls” events to the streets of Europe. These festivals highlight the richness and variety of Jewish culture through music and dance performances, workshops, concerts, art exhibitions, and other engaging activities for all ages. Judaism without walls programs make Jewish tradition accessible in alternative venues.
The single largest Jewish event in Hungary, JDC’s Judafest, brings music, art, children’s programs, Hora dances, and traditional kosher specialties to the streets of Budapest—and draws thousands of Jews of every age eager to partake in the annual festival. While an estimated 120,000 Jews live in Hungary, only some 15 percent of the population is active. JDC partners with the local Jewish community on highly visible and highly accessible programs like Judafest to dramatically increase levels of affiliation among the capital city’s high concentration of Jews. Judafest itself is an opportunity for Jews from Budapest and beyond to see new faces and feel a sense of belonging and camaraderie with others who share their Jewish heritage.
JDC, in partnership with FEDROM and the Israeli Embassy in Romania, recently hosted a “Shalom Jerusalem!” street festival in Bucharest, Romania. Participants learned about Jerusalem’s history, culture and traditions. The festival’s main goal was to bring the Jews of Romania closer to their community and to welcome both those unaffiliated with the community and the general Romanian population. The festival also aimed to educate participants about Israel, Jerusalem and Romanian Jewish culture. Over 12,000 people participated in the Shalom Jerusalem event, which boasted over 30 individual activities.
JDC events foster pluralistic, grassroots Jewish learning opportunities and more extensive study programs, cultural events, and Shabbat and holiday activities for all ages; preschool programs that attract young families; and youth clubs and popular camp programs that connect the youngest generation to the Jewish community. JCCs without walls programs, such as street festivals, work to further the involvement of Jewish communities across Europe.