Bulgaria Jewish community memorial 370.
(photo credit: REUTERS/Stoyan Nenov)
The Great Prayer Hall of the Central Synagogue in the Bulgarian capital of Sofia, was subjected to an attack in which stones were thrown through the temple windows by "unidentified assailants" on Saturday witnesses said, according to The Algemeiner.
Bulgaria and the its capital are no strangers to antisemitism and have even been subjected to other attacks over recent weeks, including graffiti depicting swastikas and an antisemitic slogan covering a monument meant to memorialize those who fell victim to the ruling Communist regime in Bulgaria during World War II.
“Jews in Bulgaria are proud members of society, and their security must be of utmost importance and concern, as with all citizens of Bulgaria,” World Jewish Congress CEO and Executive Vice President Robert Singer said. “It is absolutely unacceptable that the community should have to live in fear or trepidation for their lives or their property, simply due to their identity as Jews.”
Hebrew University estimates indicate a diminished Jewish population in Bulgaria since the end of second world war. The current population ranges from 2,000-6,000 Jews, in a country with a general population totaling just above seven million citizens - where the Jewish population represents around .03% of the population.
Israel continues to maintain a strong relationship with the Bulgarian government and Bulgaria is one of the countries that Israel looks to from time to time to soften statements or resolutions coming out of Brussels regarding Israel and the Palestinians
It is also one of the EU countries – along with the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Croatia, Poland, Hungary, Romania, Lithuania, Latvia, Cyprus and Greece – that often break with other EU countries in votes on Israel in international bodies, abstaining rather than voting against it.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has previously praised the “wonderful” friendship
between Bulgaria and Israel, saying that Israel will never forget the Bulgarian citizens who laid themselves down on the train tracks during World War II to prevent the deportation of Bulgaria’s Jews from Sofia.
Bulgaria is well-known for their heroism in defending the Jewish people during World War II. Leaders in the Bulgarian political, economic and intellectual elite wrote protest letters in defense of the Bulgarian Jews and senior members of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church prevented the Jews from being deported to Nazi death camps; stating that, "their compatriots could be taken to the camps only if they too were taken."
“We urge the [Bulgarian] authorities to take every measure possible to ensure their safety and well-being in the face of a spate of antisemitic incidents of late, and recognize that this cannot be treated as a simple act of criminal vandalism,” Singer commented in regards to the attack on the synagogue.
No injuries were reported during the incident.
Herb Keinon contributed to this report.