Bulgarian President Adds Pride to Community Chanukah Festivities

Community members filled Sofia, Bulgaria’s historic central synagogue Saturday night, eager to witness Bulgarian President Rosen Plevneliev kindle the first Chanukah light.

The ambassadors of Israel, Turkey, the U.S., and other official guests in attendance added to the pride this event held for the Bulgarian Jewish community. In a country beset by ongoing economic difficulties and social tensions, the head of state’s role conveyed to the public that the Jewish community is a respected and integral part of Bulgarian society.

The candlelighting was complemented by a joyful performance of holiday songs by the youth choir, and a festive party that followed at one of the two Jewish Community Centers in Sofia that JDC helps to support.

Crowds also flocked to a Chanukah charity bazaar at the Beit Ha’am JCC on Sunday to purchase clothing and other items donated by community members, including scrumptious home-baked Chanukah treats. Organized by the different arms of the Sofia community with support from JDC, the bazaar’s proceeds are benefiting community members in need, including many young Jewish families who’ve lost jobs and business income in the economic downturn.

A special celebration will take place on Thursday at the recently established Jewish kindergarten — the first such preschool to open its doors in Sofia in over 50 years.

And for the final day of Chanukah, a flash mob organized at one of Sofia’s largest shopping centers is guaranteed to bring this eight-day festival to an exciting conclusion next Sunday!

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