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Estonian Jewry celebrates revival 75 years after Nazis declared it Jew-free
Estonia
Estonian Jewry celebrates revival 75 years after Nazis declared it Jew-free

Seventy-five years after the Nazis declared that Estonia was “Jew free,” the Baltic country’s president celebrated the return of Jewish life there at an event attended by Israeli politicians and rabbis.

President Kersti Kaljulaid received the guests, including Israel’s chief Ashkenazi rabbi, David Lau, at a ceremony on Thursday in Tallinn, celebrating the 10th anniversary of the establishment of the first Jewish community in Estonia after the Holocaust.

“The story of the Synagogue of Tallinn tells us about the fate of the Jewish community,” Kaljulaid said at the event.

It was a reference to the fact that the Nazis destroyed all Jewish houses of worship in Estonia, where Soviet authorities who took over from the Nazis refused to allow the country’s few Jews who returned from death camps to build any synagogues. The Beit Bella Synagogue was inaugurated in 2007.

The chief rabbi of Estonia, Shmuel Kot, and the Jewish businessman and philanthropist Alexander Bronstein, who funded the building of the synagogue and community centre named after his mother, at the event also hosted Israel’s minister for social equality, Gila Gamliel, and Israel’s ambassador to Estonia, Dov Segev-Steinberg, as well as local and foreign dignitaries.

“The history of the local community as the history of the country itself has experienced tragedies and revivals,” Kaljulaid said. “From the years of the Holocaust, which tell us the tragedy and the difficulty of occupation, to the flourishing recent years of free, democratic and independent Estonia. Today the synagogue is a beautiful and clear indications of the importance of freedom.”

Seventy-five years ago, at the Wannsee Conference about the Nazi extermination of Europe’s Jews, Estonia was the first country to be declared “Juden-Frei.”

Until a decade ago, Estonia was one of the only countries in Europe without a synagogue. On the 40th anniversary of Jerusalem’s reunification, the synagogue and the new Jewish centre were opened.

 Click here to read the full article in Times of Israel

Monday, May 29, 2017
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