New book on history of the Bulgarian Jews to be published in March 2018

Written by on November 17, 2017 in Bulgaria - Comments Off on New book on history of the Bulgarian Jews to be published in March 2018

A book entitled “Bulgarian Jews: Living History” is to be published in March 2018 as the country marks the 75th anniversary of the prevention of the deportation of Bulgarian Jews to the death camps of the Holocaust and mourns the murders of 11 343 Jews from Bulgarian-administered territory who did not escape that fate.

The book, a large-format luxury edition, will trace the history of Bulgaria’s Jews from Antiquity through the successive epic phases of the country’s history, leading up to a detailed account of the life of a community that remains living today. “Bulgarian Jews: Living History” culminates in contemplating the future of that community, while bowing to the memory of the many prominent Jews who have earned a place in this country’s history.

Commissioned by the Shalom Organization of the Jews in Bulgaria and being produced in co-operation with Sofia Globe Media Ltd, the book – which will have a strong emphasis on photographic illustrations – is being written by The Sofia’s Globe’s Editor-in-Chief Clive Leviev-Sawyer and Associate Editor Imanuel Marcus.

The book narrates the arrival of successive migrations of Ashkenazi and Sephardic Jews into what would become today’s Bulgaria, relates the story of Tsar Ivan Alexander and Theodora-Sarah, the saga of the community during the long centuries of Ottoman rule, and the time from Bulgaria’s Liberation in the late 19th century up to eve of the Second World War.

From there, it goes on to the momentous events that led to the prevention of the deportation of the Bulgarian Jews in 1943, tracing resistance to anti-Semitic laws by the Bulgarian Orthodox Church and leading political figures, intellectuals and ordinary Bulgarians that culminated in the rescue from the Holocaust. On the basis of careful research and seeking to be as objective as possible, the book considers these events, along with that of the Jews in Bulgaria’s “new lands” sent to be murdered at the hands of the Nazi regime.

The end of the Second World War brought the departure of the majority of Bulgaria’s Jews to Israel, as the post-war communist regime reshaped the country. The book explains the role that many Bulgarian Jews who chose to stay in the country played in the decades of that communist regime. At the same time, this chapter relates the reality for those who were Jews but not communists, such as renowned composer Milcho Leviev, who escaped the “People’s Republic of Bulgaria” in 1970.

In turn, there were new changes in store for Bulgaria as the end of the Cold War brought the fall of the communist regime and with it the end of the official policy of the subversion of religion and the very denial of the existence of a Jewish religious community. The transition bore with it the opportunity for a revival of community and religious life, along with an opening to the world that made possible generous assistance from international Jewish organisations. Together, these have made possible a future that young Bulgarian Jews speak about in the book.

The project is being supported financially by a number of prominent organisations and individual donors, while Shalom continues to welcome donations to ensure the success of the publication.

(Photo: Dimitar Peshev, the Deputy Speaker of Parliament in 1943 who sacrificed his career and put his very future in jeopardy for the sake of the rescue of the Bulgarian Jews. Source: YouTube)

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