Continuing the tradition set by Bulgaria’s democratically-elected heads of state, President Roumen Radev joined the country’s Jewish community on December 9 in celebrating Hannukah, the festival of lights.
At a ceremony at Sofia Central Synagogue, where guests included Sofia mayor Yordanka Fandukova, US ambassador Eric Rubin and the Charge d’Affaires of the embassy of the State of Israel, Violet D’chencko Barashi, President Radev spoke of the meaning of Hannukah.
“In our hands and hearts is the will to help the light to make its way through the darkness and to do good,” he said.
Radev said that we are living in disturbing times in history, “of aggressive nationalism and xenophobia”.
“Today it falls to us to state clearly that love of motherland does not mean hatred of the other, that it should not be aggressive and abusive, but wise and enlightened,” he said.
Radev said that even during this festival, “we cannot forget that in the past year, we have witnessed antisemitic homicides in Europe and around the world”. He cited the memory of those Bulgarians who at the time of the Second World War, had stood up against Hitler and fascism, calling on all to remember the historical truth and to allow nothing to be forgotten.
At the ceremony, the Bulgarian Jewish community was delighted to experience the recently-overhauled heating system in the Synagogue, the majestic interior of which was comfortably warm, in sharp contrast to the seven previous decades in which everyone would remain in winter coats and hats to stave off the chill. The community’s leadership expressed thanks to World Jewish Congress President Ronald S Lauder and Sofia municipality for their generous support in making the renewed heating system possible.
(Photos: president.bg, Clive Leviev-Sawyer, BNT, bTV, and via Facebook)