STA, 10 November 2021 - Slovenia's Jewish community has finally got a place of worship as the Ljubljana Synagogue opened in a residential building in Trubarjeva Street on Tuesday in a joint effort by the Austrian Jewish community from Graz and the Slovenian Jewish community.
The two communities joined forces in August 2021 by establishing the Association of Jewish Communities of Graz and Ljubljana, which runs the new Ljubljana synagogue.
The first major event there after the opening will be the celebration of Hanukkah, the festival of light, on 5 December, Slovenian Jewish Community vice-president Igor Vojtic said at yesterday's opening.
"We haven't had such a prayer room until now, but it is key to preserving religious and ethnic identity," Vojtic said at the opening, as quoted by the newspaper Delo.
The community has made efforts to have a synagogue for years but lacked the funds, while it has had the main rabbi for Slovenia since 2003. Services were therefore held at a variety of locations.
Vojtic said that the new synagogue was a result of historical ties between the Jewish communities in Slovenia and Austria.
The Slovenian Jewish community is estimated to have over one hundred members, while there were more than 1,500 before World War II, according to Delo.
Yesterday's opening was also attended by Ariel Haddad, the rabbi for Slovenia, members of other religious communities in Slovenia, including Ljubljana Archbishop Stanislav Zore and Mufti Nevzet Porić, diplomats, including Austrian Ambassador to Slovenia Elisabeth Ellision-Kramer, and Slovenian President Borut Pahor.
Pahor stressed the importance of tolerance and an inclusive society. He said the synagogue was a sign of cooperation between the Jewish communities in Ljubljana and Austria's Graz and a symbol of coexistence within an inclusive society.
The synagogue opening coincided with the anniversary of Kristallnacht (the Night of Broken Glass), a pogrom against Jews carried out in Nazi Germany on 9-10 November 1938.
Elie Rosen, Graz Jewish Community chairman and head of the Ljubljana Synagogue, said it was important to launch the synagogue on the exact date, to show that the Nazis had not managed to destroy Jewish culture in Europe.
"9 November is thus not just a bridge to the past but a bridge to the future," Rosen was quoted as saying in a press release of the new association.