The tradition of organizing an international conference in association with significant historical anniversaries of the Republic of Estonia, the State of Israel and the Jewish community in Estonia started 15 years ago. Back then, in the year when the 90th anniversary of Estonian independence, the 60th anniversary of the proclamation of the Jewish state and the 20th anniversary of the Jewish Cultural Society were marked, the first international conference took place.
The organizers of the conference sought to embrace and interpret the role of the revived Jewish community in present-day Estonia and to highlight connections between Estonia and Israel in the historical perspective. On 4 April 2008, nearly one hundred people gathered in the conference hall of the Olympia hotel, among them not only members of the Jewish community, but also representatives of other ethnic minorities, politicians, businesspeople, diplomats, cultural figures and scholars. The opening address was given by Ene Ergma, Speaker of the Estonian Parliament.
Already the first conference suggested that the topic was clearly multifaceted and thus requires continued attention and elaboration. This concerns the contribution of Estonian Jews to the revival of Israel, Estonians’ interest in the history and culture of Jewish people, the role played by the Estonian Jewry and the Jewish community in Estonian society. This list is by no means comprehensive.
It became obvious that we needed to pay more attention to the historical aspect of the relationships between Jews and Estonians. So, while developing the concept for the second conference scheduled for 13 May 2013 at the conference hall of the National Library, a model of three intersecting planes was adopted. Hence the name of the second conference “95-65-25”.
In 2018, the Republic of Estonia celebrated its 100th anniversary. This is a special date for any country. And a reason to comprehend the path traveled over a century. The 100-70-30 conference continued the tradition of the two previous ones, highlighting significant moments in the activities of the Jewish Community of Estonia on the map of world Jewry, partnerships between Israel and Estonia in the field of innovation, and social responsibility of business.
What does this model entail? The underlying idea was to identify the points where the histories of our country, the Jewish state and Estonian Jewry intersect. And even though our historical developments were not simultaneous, the histories of the Estonian and Jewish peoples share certain common features. There are not only parallels, but also intersections. Not everything was smooth and cloudless in the history we share.
In 2023, the Republic of Estonia celebrates its 105th anniversary. The Conference “105-75-35” continues the tradition of the three previous ones. Looking and evaluating, and sometimes overestimating the past, we will try to analyze our present and try to imagine the future. Estonia is our home, where we feel free and safe, Israel is our historical homeland and our spiritual center. We want our countries and peoples to live in peace and security. To do this, we need to better understand each other. Let this Conference be a contribution to the realization of this dream.