ISTANBUL - Turkish Daily News
Hundreds of Jewish students vacationing in Istanbul as part of the European Union of Jewish Students', or EUJS, summer program wrapped up their vacation yesterday, hoping to send Europe an important message about Turkey's relevance. The EUJS's biggest annual event, Summer-U, is a social gathering bringing together 500 Jewish students from across Europe and various locales to appreciate their common heritage while sharing in the culture of the chosen destination. This year, the 25th year of the Summer-U program, 500 students arrived in Şile on August 17 to vacation and use the opportunity to send Europe a clear message; that Turkey was part of Europe. "We want to send a signal that Turkey is involved with Europe and is part of it," one EUJS official told the Turkish Daily News.
Biggest such event in a Muslim country
Hosting the event in Istanbul had other practical benefits too the official admitted, saying, "We also wanted to foster cultural dialogue with a Muslim country. We thought it was interesting to come to a Muslim country as a Jewish organization." A previous EUJS event in Istanbul several years ago had only 30 participants, and this is the first time the organization has brought this many members to a Muslim country. The organization gives particular importance to minorities in Europe, and organizers feel that it is important for the students to have dialogue with the Muslim populations in Europe. While cultural exchange is a priority, the main purpose of the Summer-U programs is to bring a community together to preserve their common identity. "The Jewish community has a very high assimilation rate across the whole of Europe, and there might not be a Jewish identity left in a few generations. So we want to bring together young Jewish people to meet and pride themselves in this common heritage" The EUJS is a democratically elected organization that represents 34 national Jewish student unions throughout Europe, bringing together some 200,000 individuals.