BRUSSELS (EJP)---The European Day of Jewish Culture on Sunday will this year feature Jewish Heritage and Nature in 25 countries: Austria, Belgium, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Bugaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macedonia, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey and United Kingdom.
Judaism is full of evidences about the Jews’ relation to nature, especially with the land, in particular the land in Israel. In Judaism, nature is a manifestation of the rule of God. The theme of nature as a manifestation of the divine greatness is a recurrent one in religious literature.
Animals are also a result of the blessing of God. Judaism teaches us that one must enjoy the beauty of nature and express that joy through prayer. God must be praised for the fragrant flowers, the trees, the grass, fruit, and animals. When seeing the miracles of nature, such as a lightning, the sunrise, falling stars, thunders, rainbows, the mesmerizing effect of flower blossoms, one should say a blessing.
Nature, whether it be trees, fruit and vegetables, animal products, during the change of seasons and the transition from one agricultural cycle to another, is a recurrent element, like traditions and rituals, for the celebration of Jewish feasts (Hagim). This blending between nature and traditional rites, typical for Jewish religious and secular feasts, is yet evidence that in Judaism nature, as God’s creation, has a place in the lives of Jews.
Launched in 1996 in the Bas-Rhin, in the French Alsace, the Jewish association B'nai B'rith, the day was progressively extended and became the European Day of Jewish Culture in 1999. From 2000 to 2003, this event was co-organised on the European level by four structures: the Agence de Développement Touristique du Bas-Rhin, B'nai B'rith Europe, the European Council of Jewish Communities and Red de Juderías de España (Spanish Jewish Network). Today, the event is organized by the European Association for the Preservation and Promotion of Jewish Culture and Heritage (AEPJ).
Every year, for one day, Jewish institutions threw open their doors to welcome visitors for lectures, tours and presentations. The custom has since spread to roughly 30 cities
Its success is the result of a fruitful cooperation between Jewish and non-Jewish organisations, including professionals and volunteers.
Last year, activities organised in 260 cities throughout 27 countries gathered near to 200.000 visitors, 165.091 participants - 679 activities.