The Next Step 2024 – Grantees

Here are the awarded projects of the Next Step 2024 Grant, funded by the European Commission.

Austria – Jüdische österreichische HochschülerInnen (JöH)

Project: SHABBATON Vienna: Jewish Resilience & EU-Activism

From May 17 to 19, 2024, the Austrian Union of Jewish Students (JöH) will host an international gathering of Jewish students from across Europe in Vienna. The event will feature workshops, networking meetings, lectures, discussions, and cultural events focusing on two main themes:

  1. Jewish Resilience: Addressing how young Jews can combat anti-Semitism and hate speech post-October 7th, exploring strategies of resistance from historical experiences, and the role of non-Jewish allies in promoting an open, non-discriminatory society. The goal is to create a long-term, pan-European Jewish Resilience Network.
  2. EU Elections and Right-Wing Extremism: Discussing the impact of rising right-wing extremism within EU member states on young Jews, and developing initiatives and alliances to counter this threat and promote an open, solidarity-based society.

The Shabbaton program will engage 100 Jewish students from across Europe and 50 participants from Vienna, emphasizing collaboration with Austria’s left-wing, pro-Israel student unions. The project aims to empower young Jewish people through education and sustained activism, fostering unity and solidarity to combat anti-Semitism and support an open society in Europe.

Awarded sum: 13.000 €

Project duration: 1.5.2024–31.5.2024

Czech Republic – Česká unie židovské mládeže (ČUŽM)

Project: Jewish Holiday Calendar

The “Jewish Holiday Calendar” project by ČUŽM will organize a series of events in the fall to celebrate various Jewish holidays and cultural occasions, supported by an EU grant. The project includes:

  1. Rosh Hashanah Celebration: A community event for the Jewish New Year, featuring rented premises, beverages, and traditional symbolic foods.
  2. Yom Kippur Observance: A visit to a synagogue for the holiest day in the Jewish calendar, though no EU funds will be used for this.
  3. Sukkot Celebration: An event open to members and non-Jewish youth, featuring an outdoor Sukkah with refreshments, a speech about Sukkot, and the recitation of blessings over the Lulav and Etrog.
  4. Themed Shabbat Dinner: Concluding with a Kabalat Shabbat service at a synagogue, a kosher restaurant dinner with the kiddush ritual, and an educational activity to deepen understanding of Shabbat traditions.

The project aims to enhance members’ festive experiences and foster community connections.

Awarded sum: 1.300 €

Project duration: 1.5.2024–30.11.2024

Czech Republic – Česká unie židovské mládeže (ČUŽM)

Project: Judafest 2024

Judafest, an annual festival of Czech Jewish culture organized by ČUŽM since 2011, aims to present Czech Jewish culture to the general public and foster a positive image of the Jewish community in Czechia. It includes stalls showcasing various aspects of Jewish life, such as art, history, culinary arts, and more, alongside lectures, workshops, and concerts.

The festival seeks to improve social relations, promote interreligious dialogue, and strengthen the Jewish community. Inspired by similar events in Hungary and Austria, Judafest involves collaboration with Jewish representatives, organizations, and security teams, and includes media outreach.

In 2020 and 2021, the festival adapted to anti-pandemic measures, resulting in a multi-day format without traditional stalls. Judafest 2023 returned to its original format, featuring numerous stalls from various Jewish organizations, lectures, discussions, an Israeli dance workshop, and performances by klezmer bands. It successfully attracted over 500 attendees and 25 new members for ČUŽM.

Awarded sum: 1.200 €

Project duration: 1.5.2024–30.11.2024

Czech Republic – Česká unie židovské mládeže (ČUŽM)

Project: Nedělníci / Sunday Blues Crew

Sunday often brings melancholy as it signals the end of the weekend and the return to routine. However, for ČUŽM members, the Sunday Blues Crew aims to counter this by using art to foster a sense of freedom and chase away the Sunday blues. Inspired by German artist Joseph Beuys’ idea that art gives people freedom, the group organizes monthly Sunday afternoon activities. These include excursions to exhibitions, attending theatre performances or films, and exploring architectural treasures. After experiencing a cultural program focused on Jewish artists or related art, members discuss the content in a nearby café.

Awarded sum: 400 €

Project duration: 1.5.2024–30.11.2024

Czech Republic – Česká unie židovské mládeže (ČUŽM)

Project: Tour of the Auschwitz concentration camp

In the summer of 2024, the Czech Union of Jewish Youth (ČUŽM) will undertake a significant educational journey to Auschwitz, marking its first two-day commemorative tour outside Czechia. This project aims to provide members with a profound understanding of the Holocaust and inspire them to prevent future atrocities. The objectives are to offer a firsthand experience of Auschwitz, deepen understanding of the Holocaust, foster empathy, and promote collective responsibility.

The journey will start in Prague, with travel to Auschwitz via Ostrava by train and private coach. Participants will engage in a 3.5-hour guided tour of the concentration camp, followed by a period of reflection and emotional support in Ostrava before returning to Prague. This project aims to empower members to advocate for tolerance, inclusion, and human rights, and to confront prejudice and discrimination in their communities.

Overall, the Auschwitz tour underscores ČUŽM’s dedication to Holocaust remembrance, education, and advocacy, ensuring the victims’ stories are never forgotten.

Awarded sum: 3.250 €

Project duration: 1.5.2024–30.11.2024

Denmark – Jødisk Ungdomssammenslutning (JU)

Project: Jewish Community Building and Youth Engagement in Copenhagen and Malmö

Building on last year’s success, the “Jewish Community Building and Youth Engagement in Copenhagen and Malmö” project aims to enhance connections among Jewish youth across the Øresund Region, promoting a vibrant, diverse Jewish life while tackling antisemitism and cultural erosion. Key components include:

  • Cross-Border Events: Expanding cultural and religious events to deepen connections between Danish and Swedish Jewish communities, with a focus on enhancing Nordic Jewish unity at the annual SJUF event.
  • Educational Workshops: Introducing workshops on Jewish history, culture, and religious practices, utilizing innovative methods and digital platforms to engage youth.
  • Antisemitism Awareness: Continuing initiatives like the “Make Their Memory Shine” project and partnering with the Jewish culture festival to raise awareness and educate about Jewish life.
  • Environmental Initiatives: Incorporating sustainability through tree-planting events and eco-friendly education, aligned with the EUJS Tree Bishvat campaign.
  • Youth Leader Training: Providing advanced training in project management, community organizing, and digital engagement to empower young leaders.

The project aims to preserve culture, promote education and social action, and foster inclusion, empowering Jewish youth to embrace their identities and positively impact European society. Through these efforts, we seek to create a dynamic space for Jewish youth to explore heritage, address challenges, and build a shared future.

Awarded sum: 11.000 €

Project duration: 1.5.2024–30.11.2024

Finland – Juutalainen Opiskelijayhdistys (JOY)

Project: Community Renovation: JOY in Helsinki

The main objectives of the Community Renovation: JOY in Helsinki initiative are to engage young adults through modern, diverse, and welcoming collaborations, events, and activities. Key elements include:

  • Collaboration with Makkabi: Regular bi-weekly activities at the Jewish Community Center for young adults, teens, and kids, led by young adults in partnership with Makkabi.
  • Monthly Shabbat Dinners: Hosting popular Shabbat dinners at Chabad House with increasing participation, aiming for 60 attendees by May, and organizing a significant dinner with Keren Hayesod and the WZO featuring speakers from Israel.
  • Community Involvement: Encouraging young adults to participate in activities for kids and teens, creating a pathway for active youth engagement and integration into the community.
  • Building Community Spaces: Addressing the lack of diversity and space by creating new opportunities for youth engagement, supported by the older generation’s acceptance.
  • Leadership Development: Aiming to elevate JOY members to leadership roles within the community, positioning JOY as a key incubator for talent and ensuring the community’s longevity.

These efforts focus on enhancing community connections, fostering youth involvement, and ensuring sustainable growth and leadership development within the JOY Community.

Awarded sum: 7.500 €

Project duration: 1.5.2024–30.11.2024

France – Union des étudiants juifs de France (UEJF)

Project: UEJF Fall Universities and its implementation in the Universities

The situation for French Jews has worsened over the past decade. In response, the Union of French Jewish Students (UEJF) has developed a training program to empower young Jews, helping them assert their beliefs, confront anti-Semitism at universities, and maintain hope for their future in France. Established in 2003, the program includes:

  • Leadership Training: Transforming Jewish students into leaders who can address racism and anti-Semitism.
  • Expert-Led Workshops: Involving political scientists, journalists, philosophers, sociologists, lawyers, and writers to provide depth and practical skills.
  • Comprehensive Curriculum: Covering team management, communication, citizenship, memory, identity, and more.
  • Specialized Courses: Tailored for senior managers within the organization.
  • Fall Universities: A key session held at the start of the academic year, gathering over 200 students in Paris for a weekend of training, recruitment preparation, identity workshops, and debate role-plays.
  • Implementation Phase: Following Fall Universities, local chapters implement projects on anti-Semitism awareness, coalition building, and counter-argumentation.

This program continuously evolves to address current events and incorporates collective intelligence, fostering a reflective approach to issues like racism, identity, and secularism.

Awarded sum: 12.000 €

Project duration: 1.5.2024–30.11.2024

Germany – Jüdische Studierendenunion Deutschland (JSUD)

Project: We won’t let you get us down

For centuries, Frankfurt am Main was a significant center of Jewish history in Germany. Despite the near eradication of Jewish life by the Nazis, it has reemerged as a key Jewish community center in Europe. The post-1945 history of Jewish life in Frankfurt reflects the resilience and resistance of Jewish survivors, intellectuals, and activists like Theodor W. Adorno, Fritz Bauer, and Michel Friedmann.

The international youth conference titled “We won’t let you get us down” brings together Jewish student leaders, activists, and experts to explore Frankfurt’s Jewish history and the struggles for Jewish recognition in Germany post-1945. The conference features interactive workshops, panel discussions, and creative projects focusing on Jewish resistance and resilience, including the Frankfurt Auschwitz trials and the 1985 Frankfurt stage occupation.

Participants will explore post-war Nazi continuities in Frankfurt, visiting significant sites such as the former IG Farben building at Goethe University. The conference will also highlight contemporary Jewish self-determination, including a visit to the Jewish Academy.

Emphasizing the role of the younger generation, the event includes transgenerational dialogues on past and current Jewish youth movements, featuring prominent Jewish community figures. It will also spotlight the contributions of Jewish women, who played a crucial role despite facing multiple discriminations.

The conference aims to foster networking and cooperation among young Jews across Europe, strengthening their European identity through informal meetings, social activities, and a Saturday evening party.

Awarded sum: 14.000 €

Project duration: 1.5.2024–30.11.2024

Italy – Unione Giovani Ebrei d’Italia (UGEI)

Project: UGEI AL SUD – Alla scoperta della Puglia ebraica

The history of the Italian Jewish Community is often focused on major urban centers like Rome, Florence, and Milan, while the smaller communities in southern Italy are overlooked. The newly elected UGEI Executive Board aims to change this by highlighting the heritage of Jewish communities in southern Italy. Over the next two years, they plan to organize events and seminars to explore the deep history and connection these regions have with Judaism and Israel.

The series begins with a Shabbaton in Naples during the Lag BaOmer period, introducing participants to Jewish life in the South’s only active Jewish community. The main event, “UGEI AL SUD – Alla scoperta della Puglia ebraica,” will be a road trip seminar exploring Jewish Puglia’s ancient history and culture. Despite challenges like inefficient infrastructure and lack of kosher options, UGEI aims to reconnect members with the region’s significant Jewish heritage.

Southern Italy, particularly Puglia, has been a crossroads of cultures with a Jewish presence dating back to the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 AD. The region also played a vital role post-WWII as a base for the UNRRA and illegal Jewish immigration to Israel. The seminar will uncover Jewish history in Puglia, including notable Jewish streets (“giudecche”) like Via della Sinagoga in Lecce.

This initiative seeks to bring new attention to UGEI’s work, preserving and highlighting the rich, often forgotten, Jewish cultures of southern Italy.

Awarded sum: 18.350 €

Project duration: 1.5.2024–30.11.2024

Portugal – Jewish Youth of Portugal (JYP)

Project: Sephardic Shabbaton

The Jewish Youth of Portugal (JYP) recognized the need for a dedicated space to celebrate and elevate the cultural legacy of the Sephardic Jewish Community. To fulfill this vision, they launched the “Sephardic Shabbaton,” a three-day event designed for Jewish students and young professionals with Sephardic heritage, as well as those interested in learning about Sephardic Jewry.

Taking place initially in Lisbon, Portugal, a country with a rich Jewish history, the Sephardic Shabbaton aims to highlight various aspects of Sephardi culture and tradition through sessions, workshops, discussions, and tours. Participants will explore topics such as history, language, traditions, music, and prayer, fostering a deeper understanding and appreciation of Sephardic heritage.

The event seeks to establish an annual tradition, ideally hosted in different European countries each year, gathering participants from around the world to celebrate their shared Sephardic heritage. During Shabbat, a central moment of the program, participants will engage in cherished traditions, fostering community and spiritual connection.

Amid predominantly Ashkenazi Jewish spaces in Europe, the Sephardic Shabbaton aims to carve out a welcoming environment for Jews of Sephardic descent. It emphasizes cultural exchange, fostering partnerships and connections among European Jewish communities and youth unions. Through tours, lectures, workshops, and discussions, the program aims to create an inclusive space for exploring Sephardic Jewish history and culture, promoting pride in unique identities and strengthening collective understanding.

Awarded sum: 8.000 €

Project duration: 1.5.2024–30.11.2024

Sweden – Judiska Ungdomsförbundet i Sverige (JUS)

Project: Änglagård – Jewish leadership training program

Judiska Ungdomsförbundet i Sverige (JUS) in Sweden is collaborating with member organizations to launch Änglagård, a leadership program tailored for 17-year-old Jewish youth across the country. This initiative aims to enhance leadership skills among participants through three main focuses: leadership, Israel, and Judaism.

Under the leadership pillar, the program covers a variety of topics such as different leadership roles, collaboration techniques, communication strategies, program planning, motivation, and rhetoric. Special emphasis is placed on Jewish leadership principles and child pedagogy.

Regarding Israel, discussions and workshops delve into both historical and contemporary issues concerning the state, including its political system and media portrayal.

In the realm of Judaism, Änglagård integrates Jewish spirituality and cultural heritage through prayers, songs, Torah teachings (Divrei Torah), and discussions on Jewish identity, values, traditions, and the Jewish community’s role in Sweden and globally.

The program not only aims to strengthen participants’ Jewish identities but also prepares them for future leadership roles, including potential positions as Jewish summer camp leaders or in other professional capacities requiring leadership skills.

Moreover, Änglagård fosters a sense of community and belonging among Jewish youth by facilitating new friendships and deepening existing ones. It serves as a valuable platform for gathering, reflection, and meaningful discussions, particularly important in today’s challenging times.

Awarded sum: 7.500 €

Project duration: 1.5.2024–30.11.2024

The Netherlands – De Joodse jongerenvereniging van Nederland (IJAR)

Project: IJAR Kabbalat Shabbat

IJAR Shabbat is an initiative aiming to strengthen the Jewish community and promote cultural awareness among Jewish students in the Netherlands. We plan to host a monthly Shabbat meal, with ten meals throughout the year. This project addresses the need for communal connection and increased Jewish life. During the IJAR Kabbalat Shabbat events, we will also hold student-led Shabbat services. These services provide an opportunity for students to come together in prayer and engage in meaningful religious experiences.

Awarded sum: 2.500 €

Project duration: 1.5.2024–30.11.2024