Montenegro President: Montenegro embodies the spirit of Hanukkah

The President of Montenegro attended a Hanukkah ceremony alongside the country's Jewish community.

 Chief Rabbi of Montenegro Rabbi Ari Edelkopf at a Hanukkah lighting ceremony, December 21, 2022. (photo credit: MONTENEGRO JEWISH COMMUNITY)
Chief Rabbi of Montenegro Rabbi Ari Edelkopf at a Hanukkah lighting ceremony, December 21, 2022.
(photo credit: MONTENEGRO JEWISH COMMUNITY)

While standing next to Podgorica’s huge public hanukkiah and the capital city’s Clock Tower, Montenegro’s President Milo Dukanovic addressed the nation’s Jewish community about the principles of freedom and faith represented by Hanukkah this past week.

“We are proud of our multi-ethnic, multi-religious and multicultural harmony, and the fact that there is no occurrence of antisemitism in Montenegro,” Dukanovic said. “Just as we are proud of the fact that Montenegro is one of the two countries in Europe where there were more Jews at the end of the Second World War than at the beginning.”

The president thanked Montenegro Chief Rabbi Ari Edelkopf and the Jewish community “for the invitation and the opportunity to personally greet you on the occasion of Hanukkah.” He added that he wanted to “congratulate everyone who celebrates this great holiday. I consider it a privilege to have the opportunity to participate in the solemn act of lighting the hanukkiah today.”

The president added, “During eight days and nights, Jews in Montenegro, Israel and around the world proudly celebrate Hanukkah, the Jewish festival of lights, with a reminder of how the Maccabees and their followers – guided by their devotion to their people, their freedom and faith – managed to perform a miracle,” Dukanovic said.

The president pointed out that Hanukkah is a universal story, originally Jewish, but as he put it, undeniably Montenegrin as well.

 Montenegro's President Milo Đukanović attends Hanukkah lighting ceremony with Jewish community, December 21, 2022. (credit: MONTENEGRO JEWISH COMMUNITY) Montenegro's President Milo Đukanović attends Hanukkah lighting ceremony with Jewish community, December 21, 2022. (credit: MONTENEGRO JEWISH COMMUNITY)

'No antisemitism in Montenegro'

Dukanovic shared his thought that the story of Hanukkah is of “freedom-loving people throughout history.” He added that by lighting the hanukkiah, together with the hanukkiot in Jewish homes throughout Montenegro, Israel and the world, “we celebrate freedom as a fundamental right of people, the right to choose and the opportunity to live according to our own conscience and convictions.”

“Unfortunately, we are also witnessing the side effects of those processes; the vampirization of all kinds of nationalism, antisemitism and populism that are associated with the darkest times of world history,” he said.

This, Dukanovic pointed out, is an opportunity to remember those for whom these candles of freedom represent hope for a better future: “all those who suffer under tyranny and oppression, especially those who suffer the horrors of war and aggression.”

“May this holiday bring health, peace and prosperity to the homes of our Jewish friends and all people of good will. Hag Hanukkah Sameach,” Dukanovic concluded.

Edelkopf lit a huge hanukkiah together with hundreds of local residents who then enjoyed traditional latkes and doughnuts.