J.D.B. News Letter

Jews in Jugoslavia Enjoy Political and Social Equality, Reports to Communities Congress Show (By our Belgrade Correspondent)

The third congress of the Jewish communities of Jugoslavia, Kingdom of the Serbs, Croats and Slovenes, was held recently at Belgrade, the capital of the Kingdom, under the presidency of Dr. Friedrich Pops, the vice-chairman of the Association of Jugoslav Jewish Communities.

This congress was called to review the activities of the association during the past year, and to discuss plans for future action.

Among those present were the Minister of Public Education, Dr. Kosta Kumanudi, who, as Minister of Public Cults, had granted a charter to the association; Dr. Dragolyoub Janjitch, representing the Minister of Public Cults; Dr. Isaac Alkalay, the Chief Rabbi of Jugoslavia, Dr. David Alkalay the president of the Zionist Organization of Jugoslavia, and Dr. Solomon Alkalay, president of the Sefardic Jewish Community.

After telegrams of greeting were sent to His Majesty King Alexander and to Dr. Hugo Spitzer, the chairman of the organization, Dr. Pops gave a survey of the activities of the association during the past year which he characterized as normal. The association, he said, has not only become the legal representative of Judaism in Jugoslavia but has succeeded in gaining influence in every respect. Its relations with the Ministry of Public Cults were cordial throughout as the association was called to lend its help to the authorities on all Jewish religious problems.

Mr. Janjitch, representing the Minister of Public Cults, said that “in a country whose foundations are strictly democratic, the Government is called upon to give equal treatment and consideration to all recognized denominations, and the same policy will be followed in future. All Jugoslav citizens are equals legally and socially.”

The Chief Rabbi of Jugoslavia, Dr. Isaac Alkalay said: “The role played by religious communities is of utmost importance. These legal units in our country ought to be the staunchest supporters of our moral and spiritual strength and also the securest protectors of our traditions and of our religious, cultural and social development.

“This association serves to aid in the normal work of our communities, to be in a way the regulator and shelterer. As the representative of Judaism in our Kingdom I, along with other rabbis, offer our counsel for the solution of all problems which make up the substance of our religion and traditions.”

Dr. David Albala the delegate from Belgrade, stated: “Our association is an important organization. In this country, we do not need an organization for the protection of our personal freedom. It must be emphasized that the Jews enjoy the same rights as those of other citizens. We need not fear for our security as there is nothing to threaten it. Words of gratitude ought to be expressed from this tribune to our country, particularily at this moment when Jews in neighboring countries, in Hungary and Roumania, are being persecuted.”

Ing. O. Grof, delegate from Sarajevo, reported that the association was founded in 1919. It was then thought that there were 150,000 Jews in Jugoslavia. Statistics later showed that there are but 64,000, of whom 16,000 are tax-payers. “This fact must be taken into consideration in our planning of organization activities,” he said. “Miracles cannot be expected of us.

“It is unpleasant to see,” he continued, “the fact of our social equality constantly underscored. This is unnecessary. We Jews are a strong economic factor in this country.” He requested the association to endeavor to prevent the creation of dissentient communities in the cities, as is the case in Zagreb, where there are four separate communities.

Dr. Isaac Alkalay said that the work on the Jewish Seminary is under way and the Government has promised its material assistance.

The Rabbi from Sarajevo, Dr. Levy, urged that the association should not confine itself to the purely administrative work, but show more activity in the solution of cultural problems.

Dr. Hugo Kon, a delegate from Zagreb, suggested that the list of communities which have defaulted in payment of contributions be published. Laza Avrammovitch, the treasurer, objected to such procedure.

The representative of the Minister of Public Cults pointed out that the State budget provides about 7.50 dinars for every Roman Catholic, 12 dinars for every Orthodox, 14.90 for every Mohammedan, and 20 dinars for every Jew. The Ministry is ready to lend its help to expand the authority of the association, and aid materially towards the establishment of a Jewish Seminary.

It was pointed out that although the work of the organization was not extensive until now there is a strong probability that the forthcoming year will witness greater results and increased cooperation of all Jewish communities in Jugoslavia.

Dr. Hugo Spitzer was chosen chairman of the association, Dr. Friedrich Pops, Semaja de Majo and Dr. Hugo Kon, vice chairmen, Laza Avrammovich, treasurer, Dr. H. Kon, executive secretary.

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