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110th Anniversary of Kishinev Pogrom

Kishinev pogrom of 1903 is a unique historical event. It opened a century of many tragedies and cruelty. It became a prophetic predecessor of Holocaust. It pushed emigration of millions of Russian Jews to North and South America, Land of Israel, Australia and other corners of the world.

This year by initiative of the JCC KEDEM with support of the AJJDC, the Jewish Community of Moldova, JAFI, Israeli Cultural Center, Russian Center of Science and Culture, International Organization “Ezra” a memorial three-day program was conducted.

The first important event took place on April 11 at the Academy of Sciences of Moldova. It was an International Scientific Symposium where specialists from Israel, Ukraine, Russia and Moldova spoke about philosophical, sociological, historical aspects of the Pogrom, its meaning and influence on the destinies of Russian Empire Jewry and even general historical process. Mr. Marian Lupu, Speaker of the Parliament, greeted the audience and told about necessity of struggle against intolerance, inhumanity and cruelty to build a strong multicultural and multiethnic civic society in the Republic of Moldova. Academician Gheorghe Duca, President of Academy of Sciences, Oren David, Ambassador of the State of Israel in Moldova, Shira Genish, JDC deputy director of regional offices management, also spoke about the historical importance of this tragedy and its actual meaning for us today.

Later a meeting at the Memorial to the Pogrom Victims took place with the presence and speeches of Mr. Vlad Filat, executive Prime-Minister of the Republic of Moldova, Mr. Oren David, Ambassador of the State of Israel in Moldova, Alexander Bilinkis, co-Chair of the Jewish Community. At the event representatives of the diplomatic corps, Jewish organizations, mass-media, schoolchildren and students were present. 

In the evening a special event organized by the JCC together with the National Philharmonic of Moldova took place at the Main Concert Hall of the Philharmonic and gathered over 750 people. It was a unique and premiere concert of Dmitry Shostakovich’ 13th Symphony, Mikhail Bronner’s cycle “Seven Jewish Songs” and soundtrack from the “Schindler’s List” drama. Before the concert Michael Shuv, JDC director in Moldova, Elena Belyakova, Interethnic Relations Bureau Director, Shmuel Polishchuk, the 1st secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Israel, Shlomo Azarov, JAFI mission in Moldova Head, Victor Kostetsky, head of educational projects at the Russian Center of Science and Culture, Marina Lekartseva, Jewish Community of Moldova director, Josef Ziselis, Euro-Asian Jewish Congress General Court Chair told about Kishinev Pogrom, its reflection in the poetry and art, their personal attitude towards this tragic fact. Rav Daniel Muntean, assistant to the Chief Rabbi of Moldova, read Kaddish in the memory of victims.

On the next day, April 12, Youth Forum dedicated to the issues of mutual tolerance, esteem, necessity to understand each other took place at the KJJC. Over 150 young people were divided in seven groups which were moderated by culture experts, historians, priests and rabbi, psychologists, sociologists from Moldova, Russia, Israel who spoke about peculiarities of interethnic and inter-confessional relations, destinies of Zionism after Kishinev pogrom, personal experience and scientific conclusions on these themes. A touching symbolic action “Leave the Souls” was led by Irina Shihova, JCC Museum curator. 50 white and blue spheres were launched into the sky symbolizing pogrom victims.

After the Forum a unique The Benjy Fox-Rozen Trio (USA) Klezmer concert organized by the JCC and USA Embassy took place. Seven Ambassadors and over 200 people became the witnesses of a wonderful cultural and music event that united traditions of Jewish and Moldovan folk. Virtuosos Benjy Fox-Rozen (bass and vocal), clarinetist Michael Winograd and accordionist Patrick Farrell together with nice local Moldovan performers showed a 1.5-hours program met with applauses and great emotions. “For us this concert is an outstanding event”, said in the opening speech Michael Finckel, JCC Deputy Director. “It finishes the intensive program dedicated to Kishinev pogrom commemoration; it symbolizes overcoming of the Jewish people the tragedies of the 20th century and continuation of cooperation and peaceful coexistence in Moldova. And it is another successful joint project with our partners – the USA Embassy”.

William H. Mozer, the US Ambassador in Moldova, said about close relations in the culture and music between Jews and Moldovans, necessity to struggle against inhumanity and tragedies like Kishinev pogrom was.

Finally on April 13 the concert of Philharmonic Orchestra was repeated successfully for over 200 people audience in Beltsy where it caused a huge interest and positive reaction. 

In total 1,500 people including the highest official of the Republic, over 10 Ambassadors and diplomatic corps representatives of foreign countries, mass-media visited the events of the program dedicated to the 110th Anniversary of Kishinev Pogrom. For sure the program will leave its significant trace in 2013 cultural life of the Jewish community and wider society in Moldova.