Bulgarian Jewish community conveys award on former president and late archbishop

At a moving ceremony at the Sofia Central Synagogue on June 8, the Shalom Organisation of the Jews in Bulgaria, the country’s EJC affiliate, and the Central Israelite Spiritual Council conferred formal honours on former president Rosen Plevneliev and posthumously on Vidin Metropolitan Neofit for his role in the Bulgarian Orthodox Church’s resistance to the deportation of Bulgarian Jews during the Holocaust.

The event marked the start of a campaign by Shalom and the Central Israelite Spiritual Council entitled “The Unforgotten – 75 Faces of Salvation”.

The campaign focuses on the coming 75th anniversary of the prevention of the deportation of the Bulgarian Jews in 1943 and the deportation of 11 343 of their compatriots from the then-Yugoslavia and northern Greece to the Nazi death camps where six million Jews were murdered.

Within the campaign, the Bulgarian Jewish community is paying tribute to various personalities, including from the Bulgarian Orthodox Church, public figures, intellectuals and academics and promote reflection on those Bulgarians who stood up to oppose the unfair treatment of their Jewish compatriots at the time that the Defence of the Fatherland Act was law and there were warrants for deportation to the Holocaust death camps.

Those at the well-attended ceremony at the Sofia Central Synagogue included numerous leaders and members of the Jewish community, several diplomats, senior state officials and municipal and civic leaders.

Conferring the award on former president Plevneliev, Shalom president Dr Alek Oscar and CISC president Sofia Coen spoke of his consistent policy as head of state in opposing extreme nationalism, antisemitism and hate speech.

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