Yugoslav Jewish Community Culturally Active; Youth Attuned to Traditions, Israel

The Jewish community of Yugoslavia, which does not number more than 6500 out of a population of 20 million, is culturally alive with a multitude of community activities and institutions and maintains close ties with Israel and with Jewish communities of the West and Eastern Europe, according to an article in the Jewish Journalist’s Information Bulletin published here. The Bulletin, published by the World Federation of Jewish Journalists, noted that the word “Zionism” is no disgrace in Yugoslavia despite the fact that the Tito regime severed diplomatic relations with Israel during the Six-Day War and has been consistently pro-Arab in its foreign policy. The Jubilee Book published recently to mark the 50th anniversary of the Yugoslav Jewish community, contained a survey of Jewish pioneer groups (halutzim) who went to Israel and viewed the establishment of the Jewish State as “the fulfillment of a national dream of many generations,” the Bulletin reported. “Clearly, the Jewish community of Yugoslavia does not define itself as Zionist,” the article said, but it is deeply interested in the subject. While the community refrains from political interference connected with Yugoslav policy in the Middle East, “it is very alert and voices its opinion whenever any anti-Jewish remark is made in the Yugoslavian papers on the Arab-Israeli conflict.”

The community’s bi-monthly magazine, “Ybriski Perglad,” re-publishes articles appearing in general Yugoslavian papers which reject anti-Israel themes and at least try to paint an objective picture of the Middle East, the Bulletin said. Hebrew language teaching has increased and new courses have been added in Yugoslavia, the bulletin reported. “One interesting and rather surprising fact is that children of mixed marriages, regardless of which parent is Jewish, consider themselves Jews despite the fact that the activities of the community are entirely secular,” the Bulletin remarked, noting that one influential factor is “undoubtedly the organized activities planned and centered around the 1500 youngsters of the community.” The Jubilee book noted that “the connection of the youth with Judaism is based mainly on feelings which find their expression through the great heritage of the past–the cultural tradition and future of the Jewish nation.” With this in mind, the Bulletin said, “many Jewish youth clubs were opened throughout the country. Here holidays are celebrated and summer camps are conducted…Last summer over 400 Jewish youth participated, while scores of Yugoslavian youngsters came in organized groups to spend their summer on Israeli kibbutzim.”

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