Summer U 2016

For over 30 years, the European Union of Jewish Students (EUJS) has been bringing together hundreds of young Jews from across Europe and beyond for a week of learning, connecting and fun. EUJS’ Summer University – better known as “Summer U” – has become one of Jewish Europe’s most successful annual youth programmes and a great memory for the thousands of people who have participated over the last decades. As every EUJS programme, Summer U is organised by students, for students and puts special emphasis on peer to peer education.

This year, EUJS and its partners gathered 350 young Jews from Europe, Israel, South Africa, North and even South America. This diversity amongst participants created a unique atmosphere: for a whole week Summer U’s attendees enjoyed each other’s company, discussed, learned about the different realities they each come from and thus broadened their horizons. We were especially proud to award an unprecedented number of scholarships to new participants and thereby bringing in new perspectives, especially from FSU-countries.

We organized a specific thread of activities that aimed to offer to our participants a variety of opportunities to plan and further their own career, providing them with knowledge as well as skills. A “Professional Development Track” was built around three main subjects:

»» Networking
»» Fundraising
»» International Institutions

Summer U is an important occasion for EUJS to reach out to young Jewish people, present our work, our goals and the opportunities we provide in order to keep participants involved beyond the event itself. As every year EUJS’ member Unions presented their work during our programme and their leadership publicly discussed current European developments and concerns.

This Summer U also marked a new chapter with regard to international cooperation between Jewish organisations: For the first time the whole staff of JDC’s “Gesher” joined us. Both groups got the opportunity to learn from each other and we were able to strengthen our partnership immensely. It was encouraging with regard to furthering our collaboration to find both common ground and space for sharing original best practices within this exchange.

Among this year highlights We need to mention our visit to the Vatican and the city of Rome: A Delegation of 50 activists was personally welcomed during a General Audience at Peter’s Square and met Pope Francis in what was a truly memorable encounter. Since the night before our visit an earthquake had shaken the exact region we stayed at – luckily we were all left unharmed – afterwards we have visited the synagogue of Rome with all 350 students and organised a joined prayer for the victims of the earthquake. We were very proud that during our Gala Dinner money was raised in order to support the victims in rebuilding their houses.

Thanks to the significant support of our friends and partners, Summer U enabled young Jews to experience Jewish peoplehood, discuss current issues and explore their Jewish identity. It was an exciting environment that forwarded a positive Jewish identity,
created lasting friendships and wonderful memories. EUJS looks forward to building on this resounding success!