A Night on Vienna

February 8, 2012 by Michelle Coleman
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Delegates of the plenum of the Jewish Community Council of Victoria have been treated to an armchair tour of Vienna’s Jewish community at the organisation’s first plenum for 2012.

Dr Willy Weisz and Nina Bassat

Dr Willy Weisz, a computer scientist by profession, is a stalwart of Vienna’s Jewish community and while holidaying in Australia and with the assistance of the Austrian Embassy kindly agreed to address the plenum on the topic “The Jewish community amongst gentile Vienna: a net contributor from culture to ethics”.

Those attending learned that today’s Vienna Jewish community numbers over 10,000, and that these Jews stem primarily not from families who lived in Vienna prior to the Holocaust, but from those displaced by the rise of communism in Eastern Europe and later waves of immigration.

Albeit small, the community boasts 16 synagogues, several schools and a large Jewish centre comprising a school, a synagogue and an old-aged home. There are also two Jewish sporting clubs and three youth groups.

Of particular note is the interest in Judaism displayed by the wider non-Jewish community: “There are many non-Jewish requests for teaching about Judaism, including at Muslim schools, as part of general intercultural teacher training, ethics teacher training and courses for adults,” Dr Weisz reported.

The Jewish community also hosts many government-funded cultural activities that are well attended by the wider community, and the Jewish viewpoint is sought a range of matters. “It’s a view that has a logical deduction; it’s not coming as dogma,” Dr Weisz explained.

The plenum also heard from JCCV project manager Jo Silver about the strategic planning the JCCV is in the midst of implementing, as well as the usual reports on activities by president Nina Bassat AM and on the organisation’s financial position by Treasurer Ian Jones.

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