Long live PEACE, SHALOM.
The 18th edition–anniversary of the Shalom Festival was celebrated on Sunday 23rd October 2022 at
the Groenplaats of Antwerp, treating the city with a joyful feast. The icing on the cake was the
groundbreaking Abraham Accords peace treaties as the theme of the year.
The organizing Jewish and Christian communities sent a warm invitation to all citizens, extending an
open hand to the Arab community in particular. The Ambassador of Morocco accompanied on the
stage of Shalom by the Consul of Antwerp gave a bold speech preceded by a Syrian group who sang
a song of peace.
The Groenplaats, in the bustling center of the city, has been the annual location for the festival since
its inception. The particularly favorable weather conditions on the day were a blessing despite all the
“Peace between all people. Everyone is equal no matter what their faith is” was the keynote quote
of Regina Sluszny, president of the Flemish Forum of Jewish organizations, who officially opened the
“Abraham means ‘father of many peoples’”, said Evgenia Daskalopulu, president of the Belgian
Coalition for Israel, quoting the Bible from the book of Genesis. “And so, the square today is full of
people from different backgrounds who are in harmony with each other. It is not one instead of the
other, but inclusive, of the other as long as we respect who the other is” she added.
“This afternoon, every effort will be made to give shape to PEACE and it is of great importance that
when you go home you continue to bear witness to this peace in order to guarantee the future for
you, your children and grandchildren!” said city councilor André Gantman, passionately
“Only brave people sign peace agreements. And by so doing they break the vicious circle of hatred and violence, for which we are immensely grateful” added Patricia Teitelbaum, a member of the organizing committee. A dove of peace, made by Israeli artist Yaron Bob (www.rocketsintoroses.com) from Kassam rockets fired in hatred, was presented to the Moroccan ambassador in recognition of
efforts being made to promote peace amongst nations.
A delicious birthday cake, iced with the words ‘Shalom Festival’, was presented to the Ambassador of
Israel. She summed up the event as follows: “The Shalom Festival is a tremendous act of support for
Israel. In a sea of challenges, it is so encouraging and empowering to be received with so much love
publicly on one of the main squares in Antwerp.”
Boogie Boy and Karista were the stars of the artistic show, with their wonderful Israeli and gospel music
performances. The ambience was irresistible, drawing people from all over the square into dancing. “A deep connection could be seen when men and women of all ages and tendencies linked hands in folk dancing. Just as that line got longer and longer, the Shalom Festival promises to reach further and further”, said Katia Van de Broeck of Koinonia Ministries.
There was a range of stands to explore, with food, literature, children’s entertainment, information,
Israeli products, and charities causing many passers–by. Interaction helped visitors as usually
appreciate and get to know one another.
Michael Freilich, Federal Parliament member and organizing committee member, rounded off the festival with the words: “This is how we gave a message of peace from the Groenplaats for the whole world, about cooperation between cultures and communities”. Finally, he called on the public also to think on and support the Ukrainian people in these difficult times. “Slava Ukraini, long live Israel, long live Belgium and Antwerp!” resounded over the Groenplaats followed by shouts of agreement and prolonged applause.
The Shalom Festival is an initiative of the Belgian Coalition for Israel, the Alliance for Peace in the Middle East, Koinonia Ministries, ORT Belgium, Joods Actueel, Belgian Friends of Israel, Forum of Jewish Organizations, Christians for Israel, Chrétiens Amis d ‘Israël, A-net, B’nai B’rith, Finjan and other Jewish and Christian organizations aiming to tell the truth about Israel, fight antisemitism and unite all people who are of good will, to build towards a better world.
Eugenia Daskalopoulou-Tarlizou 0497 43 64 84
Katia Van de Broeck 0484 86 73 63