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Moldovan Orthodox Group Warns Against Menorah Display


In 2009, Christians led by Father Anatol Cibric tore down a menorah in a Chisinau square and replaced it with a cross.

In 2009, Christians led by Father Anatol Cibric tore down a menorah in a Chisinau square and replaced it with a cross.

CHISINAU -- A Christian-Orthodox association in Moldova has asked officials to prevent the Jewish community from displaying a menorah in downtown Chisinau ahead of the upcoming Hanukkah holidays, RFE/RL's Moldovan Service reports.

On November 10, hundreds of Christians marched in downtown Chisinau warning City Hall to ban the Jewish community from displaying the menorah this year at the same site as in 2009, near a statue of a medieval Moldovan king.

Last year, Christians led by Father Anatol Cibric tore down a menorah in a Chisinau square and replaced it with a cross. Cibric was subsequently fined the equivalent of some $50, a punishment that the Wiesenthal Center in Jerusalem called "ridiculous."

Dorin Mereuta, leader of the Orthodox Youth Association, told reporters during a rally on November 11 that "displaying [the menorah] is an offense to us and a form of oppression of the Christians by the non-Christians."

He added that his group would accept the menorah in a more "discrete" place but warned that if the city and the Jewish community choose the same location again, he can't rule out that the menorah will be "dismantled."

Chisinau Mayor Dorin Chirtoaca told RFE/RL on November 11 that he would issue the Jewish community official permission to display the menorah in downtown Chisinau and will ensure that violent incidents do not occur like last year.

Alexandru Pincevschi, cochairman of Moldova's Association of Jewish Communities, told RFE/RL he hopes the December 1-9 Hanukkah holiday will be a peaceful event -- as it is "in any civilized city, from New York to Moscow" -- and said it is up to Chisinau officials to decide the location of the menorah.

Pincevschi said any attacks against Jewish symbols should be dealt with promptly, or they "will repeat themselves forever."

There were an estimated 4,600 Jews in Moldova in 2006.
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