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January 21, 2019 3:58 pm

Central Synagogue in Bulgarian Capital Vandalized by Rock-Throwing Assailant

avatar by Barney Breen-Portnoy

Members of Bulgaria’s Jewish community attend a service at the Central Synagogue in Sofia, March 10, 2013. Photo: Reuters / Stoyan Nenov.

Rocks were thrown through the windows of the Great Prayer Hall of the Central Synagogue in the Bulgarian capital of Sofia on Saturday by an unidentified assailant as onlookers watched.

No one was hurt in the incident, which took place just more than a week after antisemitic graffiti was scrawled on a monument in the city to victims of the Communist regime that ruled Bulgaria from the end of World War II until the fall of the Soviet Union, with which it was allied.

In a statement, the World Jewish Congress (WJC) expressed solidarity “with our community in Bulgaria in decrying this despicable act of vandalism against a center of Jewish life in Sofia,” and noted it was “further outraged by the utter lack of attention this desecration was given by passersby.”

“We urge the authorities to take every measure possible to ensure their safety and well-being in the face of a spate of antisemitic incidents of late, and recognize that this cannot be treated as a simple act of criminal vandalism,” WJC CEO and Executive Vice President Robert Singer said.

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“Jews in Bulgaria are proud members of society, and their security must be of utmost importance and concern, as with all citizens of Bulgaria,” he added. “It is absolutely unacceptable that the community should have to live in fear or trepidation for their lives or their property, simply due to their identity as Jews.”

“We trust that the police and government will treat this incident with the severity it deserves, and do everything in their power to prevent such acts of hatred from happening again, including around-the-clock protection of Jewish communal property,” Singer concluded.

Around 2,000 Jews live in Bulgaria today. Almost all of the country’s pre-World War II Jewish population of nearly 50,000 people survived the Holocaust, but most later left for Israel after its establishment in 1948.

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