German Jews celebrate identity with ‘Jewrovision’ song contest

“Among all the Diaspora communities Germany is unique and there is nothing like it.”

 Or Chadasch featuring JuJuBa at the Jewrovision  (photo credit: SAM SOKOL)
Or Chadasch featuring JuJuBa at the Jewrovision
(photo credit: SAM SOKOL)
Young Jews from across Europe gathered in Mannheim, Germany, on Saturday to compete in the annual “Jewrovision” song and dance competition, a send-up of the continent- wide Eurovision music contest.
Attended by 2,000 spectators and organized by the Central Council of Jews in Germany, Jewrovision has been held in different cities across the country every year since 2002.
“It’s not just about music and dance – it’s also about passing on our Jewish values and traditions,” Council President Dr. Josef Schuster said in an interview with the Irish Times this weekend.
It was a sentiment echoed by Susanne Beinzri, who heads a center for young Jews in Mannheim.
“Many of my kids are as secular as any other, yet they know Easter and Christmas but not the Jewish traditions,” she was quoted as saying, adding that Jewrovision serves as “an attempt to help them preserve and develop a bit of Jewish identity.”
An overwhelming majority of Germany’s Jews today are immigrants from the former Soviet Union – Russian speakers who, many believe, have experienced something of an existential crisis. And, while many young German Jews are aware of their Jewishness, it does not always play a central role in their lives.
Jews in Germany do not always live in large communities but, rather, are spread throughout the country.
“Among all the Diaspora communities, Germany is unique and there is nothing like it,” one Jewish Agency emissary in Germany told The Jerusalem Post in late 2013. “Many people are not part of communities and do not think of themselves as part of communities.”
“It is hard for them to identify as Germans, it is hard for them to identify as Russians because they are many years away from Russian culture [and] they have really a dilemma, a search for their identity,” he said.
Recent events in Germany have rattled community members, as well.
Speaking with the chief of state during a meeting with the leadership of the Christian Democratic Union party late last year, representatives of the Central Council of Jews in Germany said that while they believe “Germany must provide protection” to those fleeing from war, Berlin must make sure that only legitimate refugees are provided sanctuary.
The German Jewish leaders called for increased interreligious dialogue and expressed their concerns over the “widespread anti-Semitism among Muslim youth” who have made their way to Germany.
“Many refugees come from countries where Israel is an enemy; this resentment is often transferred to Jews, in general,” they warned.
These statements were almost word for word the same as those made by Schuster during a with Merkel just weeks earlier.
However, despite the challenges facing German Jewry, the Jewish leader seemed upbeat following the contest, which brought together 1,200 participants from 60 communities.
The winners of the contest were Judische Jugend Baden (Young Jews from Baden), or JuJuBa, with the song “We’re Sending Hope to the World.”
“Once again, our young Jewish generation has us enchanted with great ideas, stunning choreography and singing. The enthusiasm of all generations was intoxicating and all participants and guests will carry it throughout the year,” he said.