Jewish community Belgrade

Currently, about 3,000 Jews remain residing in Serbia, two-thirds of whom live in Belgrade and its suburbs. The Jewish Community of Belgrade, located at Kralja Petra 71a, is housed in a building that was designed in 1928 for the Sephardic community. It sits on a hilly street in the old section of Belgrade, two blocks northeast of Knez Mihailova Street.

www.jobeograd.org

Today, Belgrade has a population of over 2 million inhabitants. The Jewish community numbers almost 2000 registered members.

Once separated Sephardic and Ashkenazi communities are today united into a single one with mutual respect and co-existence of traditional heritage and values. Jews of the post war community strengthened their Jewish identity through developing educational programs based on cultural values, memory on Holocaust and close ties with Israel.

Holidays are mainly celebrated in community center and the synagogue.

Pre-war community had rather low intermarriage scale. New community, on the opposite, is being characterized with high rate of intermarriage.

Post Second World War period has been marked by decline in, or no traditional Jewish family life. Jewish weddings, observance of Brit, Bar Mitzvah, kosher food and other commandments were very rare occasions.

Jewish religious life becomes quite improved with coming in of a new Belgrade rabbi Yitchak Asiel, who also serves as a Chief Rabbi of Serbia. Under the new rabbi, regular Shabbat services have been improved and maintained. These services are now conducted for all the main holidays. New prayer books and Torah study increased the observance of traditional values. Kosher meals are prepared and delivered to the survivors of the Holocaust. Social Hall serves as the only kosher catering spot for the members of the community and guests.

One may say that modern orthodox rabbi successfully conducts a more observant and traditional form of life within the community in Belgrade and in the country.

Jews of Belgrade live no more in Jewish street in Dorchol area that was known to be dominantly inhabited by Jews before the War.

They are less and less craftsmen and tradesmen. Most of them are intellectuals, with obtained university degrees in law, sciences, medicine, engineering, civil engineering and management. So as to say, Jews of Belgrade predominantly belong to either lower middle or middle class.

In the aftermath of the communist system that ruled the country until the very end of the last century, coupled with economic sanctions and civil wars in the 1990s, a severe economic crisis stroke the whole country. Many Jews and especially youngsters left the country searching for better lives. Their chosen destinations mostly include: Israel, USA, Canada, Australia and Western Europe.

Children and youth club maintains educational activities, various seminars, informal educational programs and summer youth camp supported by JDC (Sarvash summer camp in Hungary, Pirovac camp in Croatia). These are also the main forms of informal education of Jewish youth in Serbia.

Community life gradually changes and develops with main concern focused on strengthening the Jewish identity among its members. However, assimilation and intermarriage remains high.

Social welfare program for Holocaust survivors and elderly, care for sick and needy members is quite important. Fight against anti-Semitism and preservation of memory of Holocaust is also present.

These programs are achieved through various organizational bodies inside the community organizational structure.

Community Assembly and community by-law recognize democratic principles of casting secret ballot in the elections for President, Executive board and Steering committee.

Community at present has numerous committees and operative bodies, i.e. financial, religious, cultural, social, regarding women, youth, Hevra Kadisha, memorial, legislative, regarding investment and maintenance.

Community budget is partly covered by community dues, compulsory to all members over 18, and partly from individual donations. Support received from JDC is quite essential. Recently, local city authorities and Republic Government (Ministry of Religion) initiated a project to support all religious communities including the Jewish one.

The Community is very proud by the work and activities of Choir "Baruh Brothers" founded in 1879 as Serbian – Jewish Choral Society, Children's Theatre "King David", Israeli Folk Dance Group "Nahar ha Esh"...

The first B'nai B'rith Lodge was founded in Serbia on 8 February 1911 in Belgrade as B'nai B'rith Lodge of Serbia 676.

This Lodge was reestablished on 11 September 2004.

Federation of Jewish Communities in Serbia

Premises of the Federation of JCS , the umbrella organization that coordinates the activities of Jewish Communities in Serbia is located at the third floor of the community building.

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