Book ‘Bulgarian Jews: Living History’ launched on March 10 at Sofia Synagogue

A book published by the Organization of the Jews in Bulgaria “Shalom”, entitled “Bulgarian Jews: Living History” was launched on March 10 at Sofia Central Synagogue, as part of the 2018 commemorations of the 75th anniversary of the rescue of the Bulgarian Jews from the Holocaust and the deportation of 11 343 Jews from the “new lands”, then under Bulgarian administration, who were murdered at Treblinka.

The event, which began with a traditional Havdalah ceremony marking the close of Shabbat, was attended by Prime Minister Boiko Borissov, Sofia mayor Yordanka Fandukova, World Jewish Congress president Ronald S Lauder, WJC chief executive Robert Singer, diplomats, and leaders and members of Bulgarian Jewish community organisations in Bulgaria and Israel.

At the ceremony, Shalom conferred formal honours on the Bulgarian government for the steps it has taken in the fight against anti-Semitism, including the adoption in 2017 of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s (IHRA) working definition of anti-Semitism and the appointment of Deputy Foreign Minister Georg Georgiev as the national co-ordinator of the fight against anti-Semitism. Bulgaria is a liaison member of the IHRA and hopes are that it will become a full member in the course of 2018.

The book “Bulgarian Jews: Living History”, published by Shalom in co-operation with Sofia Globe Media, narrates the story of the development of the Jewish community in Bulgaria from antiquity to the present day. Co-authored by Clive Leviev-Sawyer, it covers all the phases of that story, through the mediaeval period, the centuries of Ottoman rule, the decades after Bulgaria’s liberation, the events of 1943 – including the deportations to their deaths of more than 11 000 Jews from the “new lands” then under Bulgarian administration, also being commemorated this year – through the communist era and up to the changes towards democracy, while introducing readers to the leadership and members of the contemporary community.

The English-language edition launched on March 10 is to be followed by a Bulgarian-language edition of the book later in the first half of 2018. The book is on sale via the offices of Shalom and via Amazon.

Clive Leviev-Sawyer, co-author of the book ‘Bulgarian Jews: Living History’. Photo: Moni Frances

Addressing the event, Dr Alexander Oscar, president of “Shalom”, noted that the large numbers of Bulgarian Jews who had moved to Israel after the Second World War. “We rejoice in the unbreakable ties of friendship and solidarity that this has created between the countries of Bulgaria and Israel. This very week, we signed a Memorandum of Understanding enshrining forever those ties, between our communities in Israel and Bulgaria,” he said. He thanked those many organisations and individuals who had generously made financial donations towards the publication of the book.

Sofia Cohen, president of the Central Israelite Religious Council of Bulgaria, paid tribute to the fact that 75 years ago, Bulgarian society had not remained silent in the face of anti-Semitic measures and the plan to deport the Bulgarian Jews to the death camps of the Holocaust. Had they remained silent, there might have been a different book, telling an entirely different story, she said.

The Sofia Globe staff

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