Conference concept

To cross-reference the three major dates to be celebrated in 2013 (the 95th anniversary of the Republic of Estonia, the 65th anniversary of the State of Israel and the 25th anniversary of the revival of the Jewish community) and to show how they are interconnected and cross-influence one another. To emphasise the human aspect of associating the above milestones, which will allow the influence of these dates on Jews in Estonia as well as on the formation of their viewpoints and the attitude to the country of their residence to be revealed.

The interrelations of the Jews and Estonians in the period of the cultural autonomy, during the Holocaust and the post-war period, the restoration of Estonia’s independence and today.

The birth of the Republic of Estonia 95 years ago allowed Estonian Jews to develop their community life and gain fulfilment as a national minority without restraint, including the rise of Zionism in Estonia and the start of repatriation to Eretz Yisrael, which allowed Estonian Jews to make their contribution to the rebuilding of the restored State of Israel.

The Estonian people spent centuries under the rule of foreign masters, but were finally able to regain independence; it was not an option for Jews 95 years ago, but the fact that a small nation could become independent showed that fighting for one’s land could bear fruit. The emergence of the State of Israel guaranteed that Jews of the world would persevere after the tragedy of the Holocaust. The beginning of the national revival in the 1980s gave the Jews hope that their community life could be re-established. The first step in this direction was the foundation of the Association of Jewish Culture to become the first of its kind in the former USSR and the publication of the first legal independent Jewish newspaper “Hashachar”. The establishment of diplomatic relation between the Republic of Estonia and Israel made the existence of the Jewish state more prominent and perceptible in Estonia. The effect of arms deal was controversial. At the same time, the pragmatic position Estonia took on the Middle East conflict earned recognition from Israel. Estonian officials see the Jewish community as a partner and assistant in the relations of the Republic of Estonia and Israel. Estonia is also committed to making Jews here feel safe, which contributes to the positive image of the country.

Conference format: presentations alternating with panel discussions.

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