(19- 28 August 2003, Sweden)
The annual Judaism culture seminar is an annual training research plan, which is related to Memorial Foundation for Jewish Culture, with headquarters in New York. In order to make the young people and authorities of various Jewish communities of the world familiar with each other and interchanging experiences and dealing with problems, this foundation is held every year. The conference 2003 was the 12th round of this program, which was held in Sweden (camping be called “Glamsta”, belonging to Sweden Jews’ Association) .
Upon recall for this seminar, of which familiarity with English language and religious-cultural training of Judaism were the principal pre-requisites, the application forms were sent for 10 young persons in Tehran and other cities, and finally, Marjan Yashayaei, Arash Abaie and Farhad Aframian were dispatched to the program on behalf of the Tehran Jewish Committee.
The programs started from Wednesday 20th of August, after introduction meeting with authorities and attendees (near 40 individuals from different countries of the world). The daily programs were totally divided into 3 sections: making presentation about different social and religious issues, training workshops for studying religious texts and social discussions, and meetings of work groups for understanding Jewish communities.
It is necessary to note that it was the first presence of Iranians in this seminar, so they were really welcomed by other participants. What they thought about the situation of Iranian Jews was really far from reality. The Iranian participants explained the current realities for them.
Establishing a 4-day exhibition from the cultural and art works of Iranian Jews including magazines, books, carpets made by the Jews and photos taken from Iranian Jews’ religious works caught the attention of all participants.
The representatives of Tehran Association had an active presence in all presentation meetings, group discussions, and training workshops. Where necessary, they either expressed their comments, or interchanged their views with those of the invited attendees and professors.
Overall, we can refer to the outcomes and results of this trip as the following:
1- Modern social-religious training plans of contemporary Jews, some of which are applicable in Iranian society.
2- Getting familiar with culture and problems of the Jews from other communities.
3- Making the representatives of Jews from other parts of the world familiar with the situation of Iranian Jews.
4- Benchmarking the experiences of other communities in training and uniting the Jewish youths.
5- A realistic evaluation of position and situation of Iranian Jewish society, comparing to other communities.
6- Presentation of new ideas to the audience by Iranian mission, regarding the world of Islam by Iranian mission
Giving explanations about the world of Islam and the proximity of many of its precepts and doctrines with those of the Judaism, Arash Abaie, emphasized on the necessity of religious and cultural relation as well as dialogue with Moslem scholars, in a roundtable, which was held at the end days of the seminar. He mentioned some samples of the activities and negotiations made by the authorities of the Iranian Jewish community with religious-political leaders of the Islamic Republic in order to resolve the misunderstandings and solving the problems of the society, and identified these efforts as the symbol for the deep impact of dialogues and the mutual knowledge for a peaceful coexistence of a religious minority community in an Islamic country.
While emphasizing the spiritual sacredness of Israeli sacred lands and places before the Jews, Marjan Yashayaei explained the Iranian Jews’ attitude towards the Israel’s political events.
It was very remarkable that the information of participants about Iran and Iranian Jews, was very limited and few. Even many of them did not know the existence of the Jews’ Prophets’ Tombs (Ester-Mordechai, Habakkuk, and Daniel) in Iran, and the significant social and religious activities of the Jews and their usual and strong relations with their Moslem fellow compatriots and the state authorities surprised most of them.
On their return, the representatives of the Jewish Community explained the results and outcomes of their trip in various meetings with the Association’s board of directors and Jewish Students’ Organization