The Organization of the Jews in Bulgaria “Shalom”, the country’s EJC affiliate, has strongly condemned the daubing of antisemitic graffiti on the oldest operating synagogue in Bulgaria, the Zion Synagogue in the city of Plovdiv.
The daubings, on the gate of the synagogue, claimed to be the work of “Antifa Bulgaria”.
Shalom said in a statement on December 23 that according to the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s working definition of antisemitism, the comparison of modern Israeli policies to those of the Nazis is manifest antisemitism.
Shalom called for the perpetrators of the vandalism to be found and punished appropriately.
An informal movement rather than an organisation, Antifa Bulgaria has in recent years held counter-protests against the Lukov March, an event held annually – with the exception of 2020 – in honour of a pro-Nazi general and which has drawn neo-Nazis to Sofia from various parts of Europe.
Built in 1886-1887 and expanded in 1922, the Zion Synagogue in Plovdiv was constructed on what is believed to have been the site of an earlier synagogue dating from the early 18th century.
Among the first synagogues to have been built after the 1878 Liberation of Bulgaria from Ottoman rule, Zion Synagogue is one of the best extant examples of “Ottoman-style” synagogues in the Balkans.
The Zion Synagogue, measuring 12 metres by 12 metres, located at 13 Tsar Kaloyan Street, has an interior themed on blue and green, with geometric designs and a Venetian glass chandelier. The Aron ha Kodesh holds the Torahs.
In 1998, memorial stones with the names of Bulgarian Orthodox Church Plovdiv Metropolitan Kiril and Dimitar Peshev, Deputy Speaker of Parliament at the time of the rescue of the Bulgarian Jews from deportation to the Holocaust, were placed in the Synagogue.