Participating in a Hanukah celebration at Sofia Central Synagogue, Bulgarian head of state President Rossen Plevneliev called on Bulgarians to preserve tolerance and respect among all in society.
Plevneliev, whose term ends on January 22, took part in the ceremony at the Synagogue, lighting one of the three candles on December 26, the third night of Hanukah this year.
He said that during his term of office he had shared in the holidays of all major religions in Bulgaria and everywhere had felt himself to be a welcome guest.
Plevneliev said that Bulgarians had repeatedly proved that their hearts are open to the pain of others and that they are willing to share with their neighbour what little they have.
He thanked the Shalom Organisation of the Jews in Bulgaria for the community’s fund-raising initiative to aid the people of the village of Hitrino, where a gas tank transporter train explosion on December 10 left seven people dead, many injured and caused widespread property damage.
Plevneliev underlined that society should not allow and tolerate hate speech, but should open the way for love and understanding, “so that our children can live in harmony and together build their better future”.
The President recalled that Shimon Peres, former president of the State of Israel, had died in 2016, and issued a reminder of the words that Peres had spoken in Brussels at an opening of an exhibition dedicated to the 70th anniversary of the prevention of the deportation of Bulgarian Jews to the death camps of the Holocaust: “better an economic crisis than a moral catastrophe, better economic problems than historical shame. The Bulgarian people are modest, unassuming, but truly heroic. Bulgarians gave the world an unprecedented example of courage and humanity, making the moral choice to oppose and the greatest evil in history – Nazism”.
Plevneliev said that in Sofia and Tel Aviv, there were two identical monuments to the prevention of the deportation of Bulgarian Jews during the Second World War.
These were an eternal reminder that it was in the power even of the smallest community, even of every individual, to change history and to make the world better and more just, he said.