Tuesday, 19 Nov 2019 - 21 of Heshvan, 5780

For the first time, the Jewish community of Montenegro has a permanent chief rabbi

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Montenegro’s President Milo Dukanovic: “Over the years, the Montenegrin people have been very supportive of the Jewish people and many Montenegrins helped to hide Jews from the Nazis during the Holocaust. Since its declaration of independence in 2006, the various governments in the state have maintained very good relations with the Jewish community, which is reflected, among other things, in the allocation of land for building synagogues, and in the very small number of antisemitic incidents in the country.”

PODGORICA— For the first time ever, a permanent Chief Rabbi was appointed in Podgorica, the capital of Montenegro, marking a new step for the country’s tiny Jewish community.

For more than two years, Rabbi Ari Edelkopf has served as the Rabbi of Montenegro’s Jewish community, which includes over 500 Jewish families – some of whom are natives of Montenegro and others who moved to the country in recent years.

The rabbi was nominated during a ceremony last Thursday in the presence of Montenegro’s President Milo Đukanovic, Israeli Minister of Religious Services Yitzhak Vaknin, Chairman of the European Jewish Association Rabbi Menachem Margolin, Director of the Rabbinical Centre of Europe Rabbi Arie Goldberg, Israel’s Chief Rabbinate representative Rabbi Eliezer Simcha Weiss, the President of the Montenegrin Jewish Community Đorđe Raicevic and dozens of Montenegrin ministers and MPs.

During the ceremony, Rabbi Edelkopf stated that: “In Judaism to be a teacher is the biggest honour. To be giving, sharing knowledge and love! The Jewish community in Montenegro is unique, and I feel honoured to be its Rabbi.’’

Montenegro’s President Milo Đukanović noted that: “We live in hard times. Antisemitism is on the rise and is not only a problem for the Jewish community, but for the whole of Europe. The appointment of a chief rabbi in Montenegro is a bright spot that we are all happy  about.”

‘’We will  surely continue our fruitful cooperation, with the Jewish community working with him,’’ he said.

He continued, “Over the years, the Montenegrin people have been very supportive of the Jewish people and many Montenegrins helped to hide Jews from the Nazis during the Holocaust. Since its declaration of independence in 2006, the various governments in the state have maintained very good relations with the Jewish community, which is reflected, among other things, in the allocation of land for building synagogues, and in the very small number of antisemitic incidents in the country.”

Rabbi Menachem Margolin, who initiated the historic appointment in Montenegro thanked President Đukanović for his unquestionable support for the Jewish people.  “President Đukanović is a true friend of the Jewish people and brings with him a very rich experience in the fight against antisemitism all over Europe. We look forward to continuing working hand in hand with him on this issue.”

The European Jewish Association assists rabbis and Jewish community leaders – small and large – throughout the continent, to grow, develop, and maintain their Jewish identity.”

 Israel’s Minister of Religious Service stressed that the State of Israel ‘’sees itself as an address for all the Jews of the world, both the Jews who want to make Aliyah to Israel and the Jews who choose to live in the Balkans, and we want to deepen the dialogue and cooperation with everyone.”

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