Our Exodus from Egypt

“When we left Egypt we could only take one suitcase and twenty Egyptian lira. That was all,” my grandmother said. “It was forbidden to take more than that, and we were very worried how we would manage in a new land without anything.”

Grandfather Yitzhak and Grandmother Tony, shortly before their exodus from Egypt. Alexandria, 1953.

My grandfather was the first to leave. He had been deported, handcuffed, on a ship sailing for Italy. Both my grandparents were members of a Zionist underground that operated in Egypt. They taught children to speak Hebrew, organized activities that encouraged Zionist thinking among the youth and even wrote a Zionist newsletter, which they distributed among members of the movement.

Until one day, secret lists containing the names of all the members of the underground group fell into the wrong hands, and soon enough they found themselves in an Egyptian prison. Anyone who had foreign citizenship, like my grandfather, was expelled. Others remained behind bars for a long time. But there was one name on the list that the Egyptian police could not find. One member of the underground that remained at large – Tony. Tony was the missing member of the underground. My grandfather said that even when they tried to force him to reveal Tony’s hiding place, he didn’t tell. The Egyptians were looking for a man. They did not know that Tony was actually a woman. Tony is my grandmother.

Grandmother Tony

This article is based on an article that originally appeared in Hebrew on “The Readeress”

She took her money and went to a jeweler. She asked him to make her a heavy gold bracelet. You couldn’t take money, but you could take what was on your person. And so, with the gold bracelet on her wrist, she left Egypt and began her journey to Israel and the reunion with my grandfather. She has the bracelet to this day—silent testimony to her life’s journey and to what was she left behind.

In 2014, new legislation was passed in the Knesset marking November 30 as the day commemorating the exodus of Jews from Arab countries and Iran. The date was deliberately chosen, for it immediately follows the famous date of November 29, on which the UN voted to establish a Jewish state. Some might say it stands in its shadow. This was the moment that the stability of the Jewish communities in the various Arab countries began to falter. With the official declaration of an independent State of Israel now on the horizon, the Arab states changed their viewpoint regarding the Jews living among them. In an instant, these Jews had their world turned upside-down, and the communities began to collapse one after another, some at all once, others more slowly, over an extended period.

The vast majority of the Arab world’s Jews were forced to leave the countries of their birth, where their ancestors had lived for generations. This process, which began around the time of the establishment of the State of Israel, continued into the 1950s and 1960s, and communities with a history of hundreds and thousands of years ceased to exist.

What took place in Aleppo, Syria, immediately after the UN adopted the Partition Plan is just one example. As Hakham Tawil, the chief rabbi of the Aleppo community, described it: “The proclamation of the partition was on Friday. On Sunday . . . they [the Arabs] declared the whole city closed and went on strike. The Jews decided to remain in their homes . . . in the afternoon many gathered near the synagogue and began shouting ‘Falistin biladna v’yahud kalbana’ (‘Palestine is our land and the Jews are our dogs’), while the army remained silent. In the afternoon, the mob attacked the synagogue, destroying it with the army’s help . . . within half an hour everything was burned to the ground. They removed 40 Torah scrolls and used kerosene and oil to set them on fire. . .” Even in Egypt in 1948 the streets burned. Bombs exploded in the Jewish Quarter of Cairo, many Jews were arrested, synagogues were vandalized.

The Great Synagogue in Alexandria had been a bustling community center, even running its own school. Rabbi Ventura taught there. “If I met him today,” my grandmother told to me, “I would thank him. Thanks to him, we came to Israel.” He taught in Alexandria for eleven years until he was expelled for his Zionist activities. During those years, he ignited the spirit of the community’s younger members, including my grandparents, and awakened in them the dream of coming to Israel.

A family wedding in the Eliyahu Hanavi Synagogue in Alexandria

“He was different from the other teachers,” she said. “He excited us young people, he talked to us about Zionism, about Israel, without fear. And he not only spoke, he also acted. His way was by setting a personal example.”

Rabbi Moshe Ventura was born in Izmir in 1892 and served as a rabbi in Baghdad and Beirut. In 1937, he was called to be the chief rabbi of Alexandria. He educated generations of students at the Jewish high school he founded, including Eli Cohen, who would become famous for his service with Israel’s Mossad. He instituted a national Zionist consciousness among the Jewish community. In his view, the Jewish national revival, Zionism, was an integral part of the overall national awakening of the peoples of the Middle East, and consequently he frequently spoke publicly about the need for cooperation between the various Semitic peoples and in particular between “the Children of Israel and the Children of Ishmael.” In 1948, he was expelled from Egypt because of his Zionist activities.

As a child, I had mixed feelings about my family’s story. On the one hand, my grandparents were heroes. They were members of the underground in Egypt and did everything they could to reach Israel. On the other hand, they were Mizrahim (lit. “easterners”) and being a Mizrahi Jew was always some kind of uncomfortable, middle of the road existence. Sometimes when I would ask my grandfather about Egypt he would say “How long must I be judged by where my grandfather was born?” For him, he was an Israeli, a Zionist, an enthusiastic kibbutznik. He had left Egypt behind. His goal had always been the Land of Israel.

They worked hard to erase every trace of this Mizrahi identity, never speaking Arabic, only Hebrew. I had no idea how much Arabic they knew; it never dawned on me that it was the language they grew up with. Only the occasional French passed their lips.

Now, I look back to that time, for the stories in the shadows. The ones hidden by the strong glare of the sun. I look at this picture of the synagogue in Alexandria, within whose walls so many family memories were inscribed. I was never there. But I imagine my grandmother Tony standing on those steps in a white dress and reciting the Ten Commandments at her Bat Mitzvah and my late grandmother Suzy marching down them in her bridesmaid dress. Both of them in their festive dresses smiling at me, with smiles of childhood from a different world. A world that was and is no more. With only the stories left to preserve its existence. I try to collect all the hidden treasures from these stories before they disappear into the abyss.


I recently published my Hebrew book, Habaytah Haloch VeChazor (“Back and Again”), a historical novel that moves between the Egypt of those days and today’s Israel. It features a journey that sheds light on events that took place within Alexandria’s Jewish community during that time, as well as an attempt to go back and discover those treasures hidden in the shadows.

Not Traveling? Visit Stunning Jewish Sites Across Poland from Home

Visitors of all ages can now virtually explore 3D Jewish heritage sites - from the extravagant to the mundane...

Screenshot from the virtual tour of the Lancut Synagogue, part of the new "Virtual Connections to Material Jewish Heritage in Poland" initiative (Courtesy: The Foundation for the Preservation of Jewish Heritage in Poland)

“I went outside!”

“How?” I asked my daughter, once again in government-mandated quarantine after a girl in her class tested positive for COVID.

It took me a minute to realize that she hadn’t meant leaving our Jerusalem apartment, but rather leaving a synagogue in some Polish town with one too many consecutive vowels for our tongues to handle…

In just a few minutes, she had “wirtually” toured a number of them… in 3D.

The stunningly-colored engravings of the synagogue in Łańcut (Lancut) enraptured her eight year-old mind.

The main sanctuary in the Lancut Synagogue, 1994. From the Center for Jewish Art at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem via the National Library of Israel Digital Collection. Click here for the virtual tour

As did the overgrown yard of the synagogue in Leczna, and the reconstructed ruins of the house of prayer in Przysucha.

Leczna, 1995 (Photo: Boris Khaimovich). From the Center for Jewish Art at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem via the National Library of Israel Digital Collection.  Click here for the virtual tour
Przysucha, 2004 (Photo: Vladimir Levin). From the Center for Jewish Art at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem via the National Library of Israel Digital Collection. Click here for the virtual tour

From seemingly sprawling campuses to simple shtetl structures, all of the places she visited are part of  “Virtual Connections to Material Jewish Heritage in Poland,” a new initiative of the Foundation for the Preservation of Jewish Heritage in Poland, which aims to open broader access to some of the countless Jewish heritage sites across Poland and facilitate discourse around them. The project was financed by Poland’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, within the context of a grant competition entitled “Public Diplomacy 2021”.

The peeling frescos revealing crumbling red bricks inside the Krasnik Synagogue spooked her.

Krasnick, 1991 (Photo: Nomi Kaplan). From the Center for Jewish Art at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem via the National Library of Israel Digital Collection. Click here for the virtual tour

There was one thing, though, which interested her as much as the reconstructed relics of Jewish heritage, and perhaps more. The Polish woman doing something on a balcony across the street – unknowingly captured on film – fascinated her almost to no end.

She felt a need to investigate the woman further. Said something about telling her friends. Couldn’t quite zoom in enough to satisfy her interests.

The balcony woman of Krasnick, person of interest

In that, too, there’s something meaningful, ironic and lovely.

Then she moved on to other destinations, continuing her tour of rural Poland from my laptop.

The synagogue in Zamosc now glimmers like a palace – shiny pristine marble floors, ornate wall details, flashy chandeliers, an impressive Hanukkiyah.

The Great Synagogue of Zamosc. From the Center for Jewish Art at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem via the National Library of Israel Digital Collection. Click here for the virtual tour

Special icons embedded into the tours enable visitors to learn more about some of the structures’ features, as well as the communities they once served.

The Zamosc synagogue cum museum, for example, boasts of the numerous prominent figures who called the town home over the course of some five centuries of Jewish life. The list includes legendary Yiddish literary figure I.L. Peretz; radical activist Rosa Luxemburg; Aleksander Cederbaum, publisher of the first Yiddish-language newspaper in Russia; and Izrael Ben Moshe Halevi, a renowned philosopher, Talmudist and mathematician who taught Moses Mendelssohn.

As opposed to Zamosc, the town of Olsztyn had a relatively young and small Jewish community, which topped out at less than 500 Jews in the 1930s. Its most famous Jewish son, notable architect Erich Mendelssohn, designed the structure that now bears his name and can be visited virtually online through the project: the town’s “Beit Tahara” – the building used to prepare Jewish bodies for burial.

Mendelssohn would go on to design notable buildings throughout Germany and beyond.

Erich Mendelssohn. From the Abraham Schwadron Portrait Collection at the National Library of Israel
Hadassah Hospital on Mount Scopus shortly before its completion, ca. 1937. It was one of many projects designed by Erich Mendelssohn in the Land of Israel. From the Yad Izhak Ben-Zvi Archive, part of the National Library of Israel Digital Collection

After fleeing the Nazis, he left his architectural imprint around the globe, including many landmarks in Jerusalem, not far from the home of a curious schoolchild, who – for at least one horizon-expanding afternoon – was able to embark on a tour of otherwise unknown historical sites, if only “wirtually”.


This article has been published as part of Gesher L’Europa, the National Library of Israel’s initiative to connect with people, institutions and communities across Europe and beyond, through storytelling, knowledge sharing and community engagement.

The Abraham Schwadron Portrait Collection has been reviewed and described thanks to the generous support of The Leir Foundation.

Elie Wiesel’s Haunting, Mysterious and Brilliant Master

"Mr. Shushani" reportedly knew the entire Hebrew Bible, Talmud and countless other texts by heart. His Nobel-laureate student never knew his real name.

"A wandering Jew, he felt at home in every culture." (Collage: 'Mr. Shushani' and Elie Wiesel [Credit: Gideon Markowitz, Dan Hadani Archive, Pritzker Family National Photography Collection at NLI] / Shushani's notebooks at NLI)

“His birthplace was, now Marrakech, now Vilna, then Kishinev, Safed, Calcutta, or Florence.”

Very little is known or agreed upon regarding “Mr. Shushani” (also known as “Monsieur Chouchani”), a mysterious and almost mythically brilliant man who served as the personal, influential teacher to Elie Wiesel, Emmanuel Levinas and other leading 20th century Jewish intellectual figures.

And perhaps – at least according to Wiesel, who penned the quotation above regarding Shushani’s place of birth – that was exactly how the enigmatic figure wanted it.

By all accounts, Shushani had an extraordinary photographic memory, reportedly able to recall and cite the entire Hebrew Bible, Talmud and many other Jewish texts by heart, while also mastering various fields of mathematics, physics, modern philosophy and different languages.

Pages from the notebooks of “Mr. Shushani”. From the National Library of Israel collection. Click image to enlarge

According to National Library of Israel archivist David Lang, who has catalogued dozens of Shushani’s recently received notebooks at the Library, the astonishing depth and breath of knowledge is self-evident in those notes, where diverse textual sources are cited without missing a beat despite the fact that he certainly did not have physical access to the sources while he wrote.

These connections also came through in person. In All Rivers Run to the Sea, Wiesel recalled one of many encounters with Shushani:

“[H]e asked us to question him about anything we wanted, the Bible or politics, history or the Midrash, detective stories or the Zohar. He listened to our questions, eyelids drooping, waiting for everyone to finish. And then, like a magician, he gathered it all together to create a mosaic of stunning richness and rigor, harmoniously weaving our questions and his answers together.”

The disheveled, brilliant figure left such an impression on Wiesel that the Nobel laureate dedicated an entire chapter to his teacher in another book, Legends of Our Time, entitled “The Wandering Jew”.

In some ways, Weisel’s descriptions of Shushani makes it all the more surprising that he revered the man:

“Always dirty, hairy, he looked like a hobo turned clown, or a clown playing a hobo… Anyone encountering him in the street without knowing him would step out of his way with distaste. To his own great satisfaction, moreover.”

And yet, over three years in post-War Paris, Wiesel was Shushani’s disciple:

“At his side I learned a great deal about the dangers of language and reason, about the ecstasies of sage and madman, about the mysterious progress of a thought down through the centuries and of a hesitation through a multitude of thoughts. But nothing about the secret which consumed or protected him against a diseased humanity.”

Shushani zealously guarded his identity and few details about his personal life are known today, more than fifty years after his death. Even his name remains a contended mystery. Wiesel concluded it was “Mordecai Rosenbaum,” while most leading scholars today, including philosopher Shalom Rosenberg, also a disciple of Shushani’s, believe that it was “Hillel Perlman”.

Hillel Perlman
Hillel Perlman

Both decidedly less exotic than his self-designated appellation.

Whether he was Mordecai, Hillel or something else, Shushani’s control of language also boggled the minds of those who knew him.

Wiesel poetically recalled:

“He had mastered some thirty ancient and modern languages, including Hindi and Hungarian. His French was pure, his English perfect, and his Yiddish harmonized with the accent of whatever person he was speaking with. The Vedas and the Zohar he could recite by heart. A wandering Jew, he felt at home in every culture.”

A wandering Jew indeed, Shushani traveled across the globe throughout his life, apparently penniless, and – according to Wiesel – without a passport.

“At the end of 1948,” Wiesel recalled, “he left me without saying goodbye… His last lesson was like all the others…”

His departing words:

“Think over my lesson and try to destroy it.”

Then Mr. Shushani disappeared. For years, Wiesel would by chance meet others who had known him, or heard about him and his whereabouts.

Shushani’s travels brought him throughout Europe, the United States, allegedly to North Africa and elsewhere, including Mandatory Palestine and the young State of Israel where for a few months in the late 1950s, he wandered among religious kibbutzim sharing his knowledge and perhaps gaining some too.

Ultimately, Shushani landed in Uruguay. Wiesel heard from others that he was there.

In Legends of Our Times, published the same year that Shushani passed away, Wiesel hauntingly mused:

“Often I am seized by the desire to take the first plane leaving for Uruguay, to see him one last time to confront him with the image I have kept of him. Then too I need him to rouse me again, to suspend me between heaven and earth and so permit me to see what brings them together and what separates them…

That is what makes me tremble each time I think of him in Montevideo, where he awaits me, where he calls to me: I am afraid to plunge once more into his legend which condemns us both, me to doubt, and him to immortality.”

Prof. Shalom Rosenberg was Mr. Shushani’s student at the time of this death, and recently donated 50 of his teacher’s notebooks to the National Library of Israel, where they will be available to the general and scholarly publics for the first time.


This article has been published as part of Gesher L’Europa, the National Library of Israel’s initiative to connect with people, institutions and communities across Europe and beyond, through storytelling, knowledge sharing and community engagement.

The Star Austrian Poet’s Tragic and Forgotten Jewish “Muse”

Only at the gates of Auschwitz did 'vivacious brunette' Hedwig Bernhard let go of the gift she received from Rainer Maria Rilke...

“...a friendship developed in walks along narrow trails through the forest…" Composite image of the Burgbach Waterfall near Bad Rippoldsau, where Bernhard and Rilke first met, and the only known photo of the couple (Sources: Alexander Migl [CC-BY-SA 4.0] / Deutsches Literaturarchiv, Marbach, Germany)

An early disciple of Sigmund Freud, Dr. Max Eitingon founded the first psychoanalytic institute and clinic in Berlin. Following his death in 1943, most of Eitingon’s renowned collection of books came to the Jewish National and University Library (today’s National Library of Israel) in Jerusalem, where he had fled following the Nazi rise to power.

Dr. Max Eitingon in Jerusalem, ca. 1930s. From the Abraham Schwadron Portrait Collection at the National Library of Israel

One of these books, Das Buch der Bilder (The Book of Images), was one of several works in Eitingon’s collection by Rainer Maria Rilke, a major celebrity of his day and one of the 20th century’s most popular poets.

Eitingon’s path crossed with Rilke’s after the poet’s erstwhile lover and lifelong mentor, the Russian-born writer Lou Andreas-Salomé, attended  a gathering of the International Psychoanalytic Association in 1911. She went on to study with Freud, soon began to practice analysis herself, and brought Rilke with her to the following psychoanalytic congress two years later. But Rilke – despite his recurring bouts of depression – rebuffed her entreaties to be analyzed.

Some three decades later, a copy of Das Buch der Bilder was found at the gates of Auschwitz. It had an inscription from Rilke to another woman, who had been a patient of Eitingon’s. The book was picked up by a guard and its postwar discovery caused a stir, yet little attention was paid to the woman’s own tragic story.


A vivacious, melancholy brunette

Hedwig Bernhard, the daughter of a wealthy Jewish merchant in Berlin, was mentally unstable enough for her parents to engage a companion-cum-minder.

Shortly before her 25th birthday, Hedwig Bernhard and her chaperone checked into the same hotel that Rilke was patronizing to overcome his own chronic depression and writer’s block.

Rilke and Bernhard had both taken to the waters at Bad Rippoldsau in the Black Forest to help assuage their ailments.

Bad Rippoldsau, early 20th century (Public domain)

According to Rilke’s biographer Ralph Freedman, she was “a vivacious brunette with a flush of youth but with a kind of searching introspection and sensibility that anxiously reached out to him.” Her self-introduction as an actress “on holiday from her work with the Luisentheater in Berlin” appears throughout the vast number of works on Rilke. She presents herself as an actress in a 1935 letter sent to Martin Buber, yet there is little to no other evidence of her playing on any professional stage.

These rare archival materials appear online here for the first time:

Letter and newspaper clipping featuring a photo of Bernhard, which she sent to Martin Buber, 1935. From the Martin Buber Archive at the National Library of Israel. Click images to enlarge

The Berlin-born physician Theodor Zondek, whose mother was Bernhard’s “lifelong friend,” would reminisce delicately that Bernhard “studied to be an actress but did not follow this career for various reasons” and “decided after an illness to visit a spa.”


A fateful encounter

According to Rilke’s biography:

“…a friendship developed in walks along narrow trails through the forest… In her diary Bernhard became eloquent about his soft, melodic voice, his small, fragile figure, his high forehead, and especially his eyes, which she compared to ‘two large, clear blue lakes’.”

Rilke scholars have debated whether Bernhard was for him one of numerous “muses,” or no more than a Kurschatten (spa shadow) – an ephemeral liaison so common at the time that it was “recognized as promoting the cure.”

Rilke and Bernhard at Rippoldsau railroad station on July 5, 1913. The photo was taken with her camera. (Courtesy: Deutsches Literaturarchiv, Marbach, Germany)

During their last night together, Rilke inscribed two volumes of his poetry to Hedwig, adding new, handwritten poems that progressed in intimacy from “Sie” to “Du“.  On their walks, Bernhard had taken several excellent photos of Rilke. When he saw her off at the railway station, she apparently asked a less adept bystander to take a picture of them together. The resulting blurry photo is one of the only surviving images of Bernhard.


War and waning affection

Rilke wrote to her for several months – even asking her for copies of the photos to give away to others. But his interest waned. In May 1914, with Bernhard not (yet) willing to undergo analysis, Max wrote to his wife Mirra:

die Bernhard is melancholy…  I have to find a way to get [her] moving somehow.”

That August, World War I broke out.

Rilke’s publisher rushed a Kriegsalmanach for 1915 into print and it became an instant bestseller, featuring five new “chants” by Rilke, “invoking the Kriegs-Gott and calling for a banner of jubilant suffering to be raised.”

Depiction of the “Kriegs-Gott” (“God of War”) appearing in the 1915 Kriegsalmanach. From the National Library of Israel collection

Eitingon, an Austrian citizen like Rilke, had volunteered as a medical officer, and Bernhard sent him a copy (“how friendly of her!” he wrote to his wife Mirra). Unfortunately, it was ruined by stains from the holiday fruitcake that she packed in the same parcel.

Believing Rilke’s affection would last, she surprised him at another spa. But he was already involved with the next of his many “muses,” and stopped writing to her.

Rainer Maria Rilke, 1900. According to Max Eitingon, Rilke “understood the great, boundless lovers among women so well” (Public domain)

Hedwig’s mental state deteriorated and she called on Mirra to inquire about Max, who was away at war.

A letter Bernhard wrote to him still reflected Rilke’s attitude to Freudianism: Max reported indignantly to Mirra that Bernhard asked “whether in my wartime medical activity I had not learned to think differently about [psycho]analysis!” The question touched a sore spot for Eitingon, who had found no scope for analysis while treating battlefield injuries in his field hospital. But Hedwig soon sent “a disguised apology for her question,” which Max gallantly accepted: “of course I know well enough the expressions of ‘resistance’ [to analysis].”

He could but lament Bernhard’s “regrets that now, when she has become ripe for analysis, the doctor is not there.” As all military mail was reviewed by the censors, he added discreetly, “…the hopelessness of her relationship with R— e compounds Miss B’s condition.”

Hedwig regularly visited Mirra Eitingon, who could not but have felt some empathy. Seven years earlier, her own promising career as an actress in Russia and her previous marriage had been derailed by a doomed affair with a famous writer.

Mirra Eitingon as a young woman (Enhanced image / Public domain)

It had plunged her into depression, for which she was referred to Dr. Eitingon. A passionate romance at another Black Forest spa soon developed between Max and Mirra.

Now Max “agreed entirely” with his wife’s intuitive ideas of how to support Bernhard. “Mirrinka,” he lapsed into their common Russian mother tongue, “follow the course of your heart, always tell her when something warm swells up in you while facing her. She is so receptive to it!”

Still, Eitingon could not bring himself to blame Rilke for Bernhard’s plight:

“This wonderful person… understood the great, boundless lovers among women so well… he must be powerless against such great hardship [as Bernhard’s], and must suffer painfully himself.”

A few weeks later, Mirra joined Max at the front as a volunteer nurse.  Whether or not the Eitingons might have helped Bernhard overcome her fixation on Rilke, she never emerged from the obsessive neurosis that Max diagnosed (remotely) as “a cage, of which the iron bars grow inward through the prisoner.”

Mirra Eitingon as a volunteer nurse in the Austro-Hungarian Red Cross during World War I (Enhanced image; original photo courtesy of Prof. Maria Mikhailova, Moscow)

Bernhard ended her diary upon Rilke’s death in 1926, and published some of it in an Austrian newspaper on what would have been his 57th birthday.

In the July 1976 issue of the Association of Jewish Refugees in Great Britain’s newsletter, her friend’s son, Dr. Zondek, recalled that:

“Hedwig Bernhard was a personality whom it is very difficult to forget… She often told us about these meetings [with Rilke] in her impressive way… She produced a box which contained a large number of letters from Rilke… they were her greatest treasure.”

Nearly a decade after Rilke’s death, in her 1935 letter to Martin Buber, she asks for the famous philosopher’s help promoting her oration classes, especially following the rise of the Nazis to power. At the end of the letter, she mentions that it was Rilke who introduced her to Buber’s work.

Little is know of her “theatrical career” or the rest of her life beyond an August 1936 advertisement in the Berlin-based Jewish paper, Jüdische Kulturbund Monatsblatter:

“Hedwig Bernhard, actress and excellent speaker, gives courses in breathing technique and elocution at her home.”

Before her deportation to Auschwitz in 1944, Bernhard entrusted to a non-Jewish friend the letters, diary and Rilke’s gift of a silk scarf.

She kept the books Rilke dedicated to her on her person until the threshold of the gas chamber. Together with some of his letters to her, they wound up in the German Literature Archive at Marbach.


This article has been published as part of Gesher L’Europa, the National Library of Israel’s initiative to connect with people, institutions and communities across Europe and beyond, through storytelling, knowledge sharing and community engagement.