Jewish Women Welcomed by Slovakia President

The European Conference of the International Council of Jewish Women opened in Bratislava, Slovakia yesterday with greetings from the Slovakia’s President, Zuzana Čaputová, and other local dignitaries. The theme of the Conference is “From Tradition to the Future: Diversity and Unity of Judaism in Europe.”

President Zuzana Čaputová is the first woman to hold the country’s presidency as well as the youngest president in Slovakia’s history. Prior to her election on June 15, 2019, she was an anti-corruption activist and lawyer. At the opening ceremony, this message was read out from the President:

“You have come from many corners of the world to Bratislava with one goal: to talk about religious tolerance, dialogue, education and support of tolerance between cultures. In today’s complicated and often clashing world, these values and themes are of utmost relevance. We witness that in many societies, they are challenged and trampled upon, that intolerance is winning and, in place of dialogue, we observe polarized monologues and hatred towards those who are somehow different.

“The motto of your conference is “From Traditions to the Future”. It is important that you, Jewish women, whose ancestors experienced the greatest tragedy of the 20th century, are committed to ensuring that these historical experiences and tragedies bring us to humanism, respect for human dignity and effective protection of human rights, including improvement of the position of women in our society. These values have also been the central motive of my five-year mandate as President of the Slovak Republic, which will end in a few weeks, However, my service to the values I believe in does not end there.

“Dear participants of the conference, I wish you an inspiring meeting and that your efforts at making our common world a more beautiful and tolerant place for life become a reality.”

At the opening ceremony at the Bratislava City Hall, the delegates were welcomed by Marta Gyoriova, President of the Ester Association, Slovakian affiliate of ICJW, and Alice Vesela, ICJW’s European Chair, the hosts of the 7th Regional Conference. The guest speakers were Mr. Juraj Droba, Governor for the Bratislava Region, and Rabbi Misha Kapustin, Rabbi of the Jewish Federation of Slovakia.

The ICJW delegates were entertained with folk dancing and enjoyed a deluxe kosher dinner. The guest speakers at the dinner were ICJW President Lilian Grinberg, H.E. Mr. Eitan Levon, Ambassador of Israel to Slovakia, and Mr. Richard Duda, President of the Jewish Federation in Slovakia.

The Conference continues with sessions on Safeguarding our Heritage in a Challenging World, the history of the Jewish community of Slovakia, stories of Jewish women who influenced the world, testimonies from Holocaust survivors, collective action in the fight against discrimination, a tour of Jewish Bratislava, the impact of the events in Israel of October 7, and the future of Judaism in Europe.