Election mania is over and Israelis are preparing for the main international event of the year - the Eurovision Song Contest in Tel Aviv.
This week, in Antwerp, Belgium, the Jewrovision contest took place with some 200 participants - Jewish youth from nine European countries. The 20th annual Jewrovision was sponsored by World Bnei Akiva (WBA) and sponsored by the KKL-JNF Education Department. This year’s theme was "Freedom" and the participating songs dealt with related content.
This year’s winner, a song titled "Kid," sung by the Dutch participant, tells of a Jewish child (symbolizing the Jewish people) who is unable to find his place in the world, has no home or a place where he can be truly free. The main theme is the hope that although the child still has no home of his own and despite all the hardships he has endured, the child will eventually find a state in which he can live as a free man.
"It's true that it hasn’t been, and it never will be easy
But we will build a house in the most beautiful place in the world
Our place is in the Land of Israel
As one people with one heart ...
As a free and united people ... "
Bnei Akiva Germany’s Offenbach branch, on the other hand, decided to use the story of a Holocaust survivor to emphasize the freedom of the Jewish people.
They went to a Jewish-Christian nursing home in Frankfurt, where they met Trude Simonzon who was born in Czechoslovakia in 1921 and was active from an early age in Zionist youth movements. During the war she was sent to Theresienstadt, where she continued her youth movement activities.
Trude was sent to Auschwitz and all she remembers from that period is the brotherhood and solidarity. After she was liberated, she became a social worker in the Frankfurt community. Trude told us about the song, that they sang in Theresienstadt, which became the anthem of their youth movement.
"You must glorify friendship, walk together, trust your abilities, and support your friends. We decided to include these words in our song for the Jewish people because we saw this as the most authentic expression of the concept of freedom as we understand it. Apart." David Goldberg, the Bnei Akiva emissary at Offenbach, said.
This year’s songs all signify a clear message of Zionism, with a strong national identity. The German representatives sang, "We will continue to live our Jewish identity, which we have faith I and we will shout it out!"
The Austrians sang: "We have seen great kingdoms rise and fall, and we know that our little nation will continue on, well after them."
The Dutch song spoke of inviting the little boy to establish his home in Israel because that is where he will find his freedom.
On the other hand, the participants in Finland wrote a poem about freedom in a completely different way: "Today every person, even if he is different, has nothing to fear. Be what you want to be and go where you want to go."
Leah Hoover, a Bnei Akiva emissary in Helsinki, Finland, notes that Finland is a country where tolerance is a very important value: "There is no anti-Semitism here, there is no difference between Jews and non-Jews, nor does it matter from where you originated. This shows us that as messengers it was very important that the whole process of working on the song be completely independent and written in its entirety by our youth."
The Jewrovision Song Contest was the closing event of a weekend dedicated to strengthening the Jewish identity in Europe, and was organized by the WBA, and assisted by the JNF. The competition marks the 90th anniversary of World Bnei Akiva and it is "very exciting to see how the movement has developed in 90 years," says Efrat Metzler, Head of the European Desk.
"Browsing the 90-year-old photo album of Bnei Akiva is to understand that freedom in 2019 is our right, and that that everyone in Europe has a choice to immigrate to Israel. To live in a free Jewish state, to volunteer and to serve in the Israel Defense Forces, and to choose a Jewish leadership in the Land of Israel is freedom!"
"Jewrovision is held annually with the aim of connecting young people throughout Europe to Judaism, in an experiential way using music and Eurovision – two very significant mediums for today’s youth."
"This year, when Israel will host the Eurovision Song Contest, Jewrovision takes on additional significance, because through this competition, the participants identify with Judaism and the State of Israel as one," said Roi Abecassis, the secretary-general of World Bnei Akiva.
Watch the girls sing the winning song: