Austrian Press Agency (APA) (02/18/2007)
Hahn: “Lively center for conversation and dialogue”
Vienna – On Sunday afternoon the Jewish community opened the “Future House,” located in Vienna’s Leopoldstadt. Across the street is the Lauder Chabad Campus, which was devastated last November out of anti-Semitic motives. “It often comes, unfortunately, to setbacks of the most unworthy and inhuman kind,” said Minister of Science Johannes Hahn in his opening speech.
Hahn’s expectations from the new Jewish cultural center are that it will serve as a “lively center for conversation and dialogue, as well as a place to come together. It is important that Austria be seen as a country with an open society. “I wish the house a lot of room for dialogue and exchange and a strong integrating roof, giving all generations an important home,” said Hahn.
A round of applause followed the statement made by the City Councillor for Women’s Issues and Integration, Sonja Wehsely: “Broad mindedness is the opposite of narrow mindedness.” Vienna is a broad-minded city because every third Viennese has a background of having migrated from somewhere else. Wehsely: “That’s obvious when one thumbs through the telephone directory.” For her, it is particularly meaningful “that I am able to witness how the Jewish community in this city is becoming strong again.”
Another speaker at the celebration was Vienna’s former Mayor, Helmut Zilk, who emphasized his own contribution towards supporting the Jewish Community in Vienna. “Over the past few years we have tried to right the wrongs,” referring to Vienna’s past during the NS era. “Among the many groups, I am deeply interested in the welfare of the Jews– that is Vienna.”
The “Future House” will provide, above all, educational programs for women and young people. Five floors are occupied by cultural and recreational areas as well as a café for seniors citizens and an international library. Financial support was provided for by the Republic of Austria, the City of Vienna and especially the industrial magnate, Lev Leviev. Also present at the opening were City Councillor of Culture Andreas Mailath-Pokorny and the President of the Israelite Cultural Community (IKG), Ariel Muzicant.