With a slight delay, Jewish community in Croatia marks one of its major holidays at the main city square.
With the lighting of the flame on a large menorah, Jewish community in Croatia celebrated on Saturday evening the holiday of Hanukkah. The candles were lit jointly by president of the Jewish Menorah Organization Rabbi Pinhas Zaklos and Zagreb Mayor Milan Bandić at Ban Josip Jelačić Square in the centre of Zagreb, reports Novi List on January 1, 2017.
After a commemorative religious ceremony, Rabbi Pinchas Zaklos congratulated Hanukkah to the gathered crowd and expressed his satisfaction that the candles on the menorah had been lit at the central city square. He said that in Zagreb everyone can feel comfortable and that it was nice to see different people. He wished that the light would shine on people all over the world.
“This is the tenth time that we have lit candles at Ban Jelačić Square for one of the major Jewish holidays. This year’s start of Hanukkah was celebrated on the same day as the Catholic Christmas Eve, so we have decided to lit the candles today”, said Mayor of Zagreb Milan Bandić. He thanked Rabbi Zaklos and said that it was once again confirmed that Zagreb was a multiethnic, multicultural and multi-confessional modern European city. “These characteristics make Zagreb an example to many other European and world capitals. Thank God that we have peace, because peace has no alternative”, he said.
The official Jewish Community of Zagreb was founded in 1806, and its membership at the time consisted of about seventy members. Thanks to changes in the society, Jews gradually gained civil rights which resulted in the growth and strengthening of the community.
The best years for the Jewish community in Zagreb in economic, cultural and societal sense were those between the two world wars. In 1941, the community had about 11,000 members, whose activities were organized through numerous cultural, charitable and sports organizations. However, only about a quarter of Jews in Zagreb survived the Second World War.
The Jewish Community of Zagreb now has about 1,500 members and is trying to preserve Jewish traditions, culture and identity.