Europe Celebrates ‘Spirit of Jewish Humor’

August 30, 2012  

The 13th annual European Day of Jewish Culture will take place on September 2 in cities and countries across Europe.

On this day, Jewish communities, synagogues and museums organize exhibitions, concerts, lectures and debates related to a given topic, in an effort to strengthen and provide a more comprehensive understanding of Jewish life and culture.

The Association for the Preservation and Promotion of Jewish Culture and Heritage (AEPJ), an umbrella organization of Jewish organizations, selects a theme related to Jewish culture. In past years, the EDJC celebrated Art and Judaism, Jewish Festivals, Jewish Cooking and Jewish Music. For 2012, the AEPJ chose “The Spirit of Jewish Humor.”

“Humour is a specific expression of people’s aspirations to bring about a happy mood in a conversation, in order to lead then to a sincere, genuine laughter; it provokes the will to have fun. People react to humour regardless of age, they love to be entertained, to smile and to laugh — in other words, they show ‘a sense of humor’. To feel the joke means to be aware of the twofold nature of life and to make it understandable for the listeners, so they would accept it from its funny side,” the AEPJ website explains.

“The European Day of Jewish Culture is supposed to be appealing for people who don’t know much about Judaism,” said Annie Sacerdoti, a board member of AEPJ. “This is the reason why we try to keep it straight and simple. We want everyone to feel comfortable attending the events without fearing they will be too ignorant to understand them. So far, this approach has proved to be successful.”

The event was first organized in 1996 by the Jewish community of France, and in 2000 it became the European Day of Jewish Culture across the continent.

This year the participating countries include: Belgium, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Bulgaria, France, Germany, Italy, Lithuania, Macedonia, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Serbia, Slovenia, Spain, Switzerland, Turkey, Ukraine and the United Kingdom.

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