Thursday, 2 December 2021

Holiday of Hanukkah Marked in Croatian Parliament

ZAGREB, 2 Dec 2021 - The Jewish holiday of Hanukkah was marked officially in the Croatian parliament on Thursday, by lighting the Hanukkah candles.

The event, organized by the Croatia-Israel interparliamentary friendship group, was attended by Parliament Speaker Gordan Jandroković, Israeli Ambassador Ilan Mor, Deputy Parliament Speaker Željko Reiner, and the head of the Croatia-Israel interparliamentary friendship group, Marijana Petir, who lit the candles.

Jandroković said he had witnessed the development of the Croatia-Israeli relations since the early 1990s, when, he said, "we did not understand each other so well", to the present day, when "those relations are the best ever, based on friendship and partnership."

We have achieved a high level of understanding for mutual values and our place in international relations, Jandroković said, adding that the two countries share the same views on many global and international challenges.

We belong to the Judeo-Christian civilization that shares, to a large extent, the same or similar values, and I am confident that in the time to come to Croatia and Israel will build even stronger ties because the world today is such that we must look for friends and allies, for partners which we can rely on. Croatia has demonstrated that position to Israel on a number of occasions and vice versa, and I am confident that we will continue doing so in the future, said Jandroković.

Ambassador Mor said that the holiday of Hanukkah symbolized dedication, and that connected with it was a legend of the miracle of light that burned in the Temple for eight days even though there was only enough sacred oil for one day's lighting. Therefore eight candles are lit on a menorah to symbolize eight days that celebrate the rededication of the Temple, he said.

Ambassador Mor said that he considered it a great honor that a Hanukkah candle would be lit in the Croatian parliament, which he described as yet another proof of the friendship between the two countries that share the same values.

The holiday of Hanukkah is marked at the time of preparations for the holiday of Christmas, which confirms how close our two religions are, the ambassador said, offering his best wishes for Christmas and the New Year.

The Hanukkah menorah is traditionally lit every evening during the eight-day holiday.

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Monday, 13 September 2021

Memorial Plaque Placed in Karlovac at Site of Former Synagogue

ZAGREB, 13 Sept 2021 - The city of Karlovac on Sunday held a ceremony of placing a memorial plaque at the site of the former synagogue which was built 150 years ago in that Croatian city and demolished in 1960.

Addressing the ceremony, Israeli Ambassador to Croatia Ilan Mor said that the contribution of Jews to Karlovac, Croatia, Europe, and the world must not be forgotten.

Croatian rabbi Luciano Moše Prelević said a Jewish prayer which, he explained, he always prays when commemorating  "the disappearance of the Jewish community" in a certain area.

Ambassador Mor thanked the president of the association "Jews in Karlovac", Tena Bunčić, for founding the association which, with the help of Karlovac County and the City of Karlovac, reconstructs the life of the Jewish community in Karlovac.

In this way, the great contribution of Jews in Karlovac and other cities in Croatia to the development of cultural and economic prosperity is saved from falling into oblivion, he said.

The ambassador wished all Jews a happy Jewish New Year.

The head of the Zagreb Jewish Community, and the coordinator of the Jewish communities in Croatia, Ognjen Kraus, wished that "something be done for a better future, apart from talking about graves", and he spoke about the suffering of Karlovac Jews in Ustasha camps in 1941 and later.

Karlovac Mayor Damir Mandić said that Karlovac is an open city that nurtures the coexistence, and County Prefect Martina Furdek Hajdin said it was important that history, as the teacher of life, be objective and impartial, "that the fate of Jews acts as a reprimand, and that we should be grateful for the indelible mark of Jews in the economic and cultural development of this area".

The culture ministry's official, Davor Trupković, said that they were trying to contribute to a better presentation of historical data and multiculturalism and multireligiousness, that the Jewish cemetery in Karlovac was an important reminder, and that numerous cultural goods spoke about the Jewish community in Karlovac as an integral part of the city.

Tena Bunčić, the initiator of this event, is the great-granddaughter of the conductor of the first Croatian choral group "Zora" (Dawn), David Meisl. Bunčić said that while researching the life of her great-grandfather she had discovered how much the Jewish community had contributed to Karlovac. That contribution, she added, is the fruit of their love to this city. That is why she founded the association "Jews in Karlovac", through which the memories of that community are renewed.

Kraus told Hina that there were now about 10% of ethnic Jews in Croatia compared to their number before World War II.

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