Albania appointed its first ever chief rabbi on Monday in a ceremony attended by Albanian Prime Minister Sali Barisha and Israel's Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar, held at a synagogue in the capital city of Tirana.
Rabbi Joel Kaplan assumed the newly created position becoming the official head of the tiny local Jewish community in Tirana which has had a presence in the Balkan country for 1,300 years but now numbers only 150 people. The position was created by the local government at the request of the Rabbinical Centre of Europe (RCE), a Jewish organization based in Brussles, during a meeting it held with Barisha. “The Rabbinical Centre of Europe’s mission is to assist any European Jewish communities, whether they are large of small, affiliated or non-affiliated,” Rabbi Aryeh Goldberg, RCE deputy head, said. “Albanian Jewry has a long and illustrious history and the current community needs a spiritual leader to ensure its vitality and continuity.”