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Budapest 2009

BudapestPaideia Alumni Conference in Budapest, 2009

On April 30th, Paideia’s fellows set off for Budapest, to spend the European labor day weekend in the company of a significant portion of the 175 person strong Paideia alumni network.

The yearly alumni conference gathers members of the Paideia Alumni Association – representing 32 different countries. Budapest, with one of the most vibrant Jewish communities in Europe and home to a good dozen Paideia alumni, was an obvious choice of venue this year. Previous locations include Stockholm, Krakow and Olomouc.

Guest lecture highlights during the conference April 30th – May 3rd included:

Moshe Halbertal, professor of Philosophy and Jewish Thought at Hebrew University and chairman of Paideia’s Academic committee gave a greatly appreciated talk on “Judaism and the Ethics of Memory”, defining how memory in Jewish tradition has implications in the spheres of ethics, faith and as a shaper of identity.

Michael Miller, Assistant Professor in the Nationalism Studies Program at the Central European University in Budapest presented “Coffee House Judaism – Jewish Cultural life in contemporary Hungary” – describing a contemporary no-frills approach to engaging Jewishly activities that is characteristic of Budapest.

Daniel Silverstein, emcee/spoken word artist, inter-faith activist, educator and events promoter based in London, presented Psychosemitic – a group of musicians who arrange rap and poetry workshops for interfaith education and Moishe House – creating a Jewish community out of your own home.

Paideia fellows and graduates gave presentations on the following topics, followed by discussions from the floor:

Natalia Yakimchuk: “The Zoharic understanding of evil and its impact on Sabbatian antinomianism”
Karina Shyrokykh: “Influence of Maimonides’ Political Theory on Leo Strauss’ Political Philosophy”
Martin Schubert and Piotr Mirski: “Personal Moses”, a Yiddish-short story musical
Linda Ban: “Everybody welcome! – Are they?”
Dominik Rößler: “The Song of Songs, Jewish and Christian interpretation as identity building”
Nikki Halpern: “What’s going on?”
Judit Schnabel: “Fat Margins: The Remnants of Auschwitz – through the eyes of its translator”
Marcell Kenesei: Presenting Haver Foundation
Anneli Rådestad together with Daniel Silverstein: “Leaving an Eco-Jewish footprint”

The Paideia Alumni Association was founded as an independent entity in 2002 and the yearly conference includes their grand assembly, where the board is elected, statutes are approved and future strategies are decided.

More than that however, the conference serves to re-acquaint with graduates from the fellowship year, make new connections within the alumni network, hear from local and international guest speakers and get to know the newest members of the Alumni Association – including a large number of presentations of their work during the year. With all the possibilities of virtual meeting spaces available today, there is certainly much to be said for physical interface between people.

The Paideia Alumni Conference 2009 was graciously made possible through the kind support of Diane and Howard Wohl.