Jewish Forum in Montenegro
The conference "Machar" ("Tomorrow"), organized by the Jewish community in Montenegro, member of the Euro-Asian Jewish Congress (EAJC), took place in Budva on October 23-26. The event was held under the patronage of the EAJC.
The conference brought together over three hundred participants representing Jewish communities of five countries: Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Croatia and Montenegro. The forum was attended by the EAJC delegation headed by Congress Secretary General prof. Mikhail Chlenov.
Conference was opened by the President of the Jewish community in Montenegro Yasha Alfandari. Minister of the Government of Montenegro for Human and Minority rights Suad Numanovich and EAJC Secretary General, Vice-President of the World Jewish Congress, Mikhail Chlenov welcomed the participants. Natalia Schmidt, the EAJC CEO delivered a message of the EAJC President Julius Meinl to the Conference.
In his letter President Meinl expressed his deep appreciation to the community of Montenegro and its leader Yasha Alfandari for their efforts in organizing such a large-scale forum. Welcoming the representatives of the Balkan Jewish communities who have joined the EAJC, Julius Meinl, in particular, wrote: “I am very proud that in less than a year of my serving as EAJC President the Congress geography has greatly expanded, and this continues the story of the successful building of our Congress. Together with you we are executing the most important strategic goal – integration of the small Jewish communities into the World Jewry. This goal has been set at the moment of establishment of the EAJC. And today, looking at the map, we are pleased to state that we are complying with this mission.”
“With you, the representatives of Balkan Jewry, our position in the Jewish World becomes much stronger, and I want to emphasize that for EAJC – in terms of its activities – there are no big or small communities, for us the center of our activity is everywhere, and peripherals – nowhere”, noted the EAJC leader. “We all are looking forward to the Eurasian Jewish tomorrow not just with hope, but with confidence. Together with the World Jewish Congress, together with the State of Israel, the Euro-Asian Jewish Congress will continue its work for the benefit of the Jewish people”, Julius Meinl stressed.
At the opening ceremony, Mikhail Chlenov solemnly handed Yasha Alfandari the highest EAJC public award – "Medal of Merit" “for outstanding efforts in building the Jewish community life in Eurasia"", as it was noted in the diploma.
During the four days of the Conference representatives of the Jewish communities of the Western Balkans took part in a number of meetings and "round tables", met with the Ambassador of Israel to Serbia and Montenegro Yosef Levy, jointly celebrated Shabbat. During the event hearings on anti-Semitism; countering assimilation; leadership in the Jewish community; repatriation from European countries were held. Panel on the problem of anti-Semitism in Europe was led by the Advisor of President of Montenegro prof. Sonja Tomovic-Sundich and prof. Mikhail Chlenov, who spoke about the situation with anti-Semitism in Russia and Ukraine.
As Mikhail Chlenov noted at the conclusion of the Conference, "Montenegro, due to historical circumstances, can serve as a bridge between the states of the Western Balkans, and in the same way its Jewish community serves as a bridge between the Jewish communities of these countries. This is a relatively young but very active and vibrant community and we are excited to the fact that it is part of our Congress. From my point of view, today the communities of the Western Balkans are faced with the same problems that the communities of the former USSR had to solve some time ago: the definition of the main priorities and challenges, setting goals and finding ways to achieve them. I hope that the experience gained by EAJC will help all its members, and we, for our part, are ready to provide the Jewish communities of the Western Balkans our assistance».
Photos: 1) Nick Propirny, Jasha Alfandari, Mikhail Chlenov
2) Natalia Schmidt
3) Jelena Đurović, HE Yosef Levy, Jasha Alfandari