Situated at the crossroads of East and West, Bulgaria entered the European Union in 2007. But despite the country’s recent growth, it’s elderly and other vulnerable populations have struggled, as pension and salary levels failed to keep up with rising living costs. Economic turmoil has also affected middle-class professionals, who have been struggling to find or keep jobs and care for their families.
Largely spared during the Holocaust, Bulgaria’s Jewish community emerged strongly after the fall of Communism and has made significant strides toward self-sustaining, vibrant Jewish life. Nevertheless, the country’s latest financial upheaval has caused significant hardships for community members of all ages, including many of the younger and most active supporters, some of whom are themselves now in need of community aid.
Today, in collaboration with the local Jewish community, JDC:
- Saves Bulgaria’s poorest Jews by providing impoverished elderly, at-risk children, and others with vital services such as nutritious hot meals, medicines, home care, and day care center activities. JDC also retrains and places unemployed community members in viable jobs through the Ariel Job Center—a model it established in Argentina and has adapted elsewhere.
- Revitalizes Jewish life through two Jewish Community Centers in Sofia, where new early-childhood programs, pre-holiday retreats, and extracurricular activities for students attract a growing number of young families. JDC’s summer camps and grassroots learning initiatives offer Jews of all ages diverse opportunities to connect to their community.
- Develops tomorrow’s Jewish leaders through informal Jewish educational programming for children and teenagers at a youth club and Sunday School, high-level training for youth leaders, and regional and pan-European events and seminars for young adults.
Learn how JDC’s innovative leadership initiatives are shaping strong leaders like Martin today.
For an in-depth look at JDC’s work in Bulgaria check out our community profile PDF.
DID YOU KNOW?
Launched in the Beit Shalom Jewish Community Center in 2010, JDC-initiated Gan Balagan is the first Jewish preschool to open its doors in Sofia in more than half a century.