Maccabi Tel Aviv Illuminates the Memory of the Jewish Community of Northern Macedonia

Dec 15, 2020 | Holyland Hoops

Maccabi Tel Aviv took part in a special Chanukah candle lighting for the 5th night of the holiday in a moving ceremony as part of the “1000 Chanukah Candles” campaign in memory of the Jewish community of North Macedonia that was destroyed during the Holocaust.

The campaign which was done in coordination Maccabi Tel Aviv along with the Israeli Foreign Ministry, the Center for Jewish Impact and the Bitola/Monastir Jewish Heritage Foundation called on the entire Jewish world to light a candle in memory of the Jews who perished from Northern Macedonia.

Shimon Mizrachi, Chairman of Maccabi Tel Aviv along with the Israeli Ambassador to North Macedonia Dan Orin and Robert Singer, the Chairman of the Center for Jewish Impact joined former Yellow & Blue players Doron Jamchi and Tal Brody as well as Matti Greenberg, “The last Jewish Baby” for the momentous occasion.

Shimon Mizrachi – Photo Credit: Maccabi Tel Aviv

“I am very excited about this event,” Mizrahi said. “In Israel, everyone knows what happened in the Holocaust but there is not enough awareness of what happened in North Macedonia – and therefore there is great importance to such an event, which can bring the story of Macedonian Jews to global consciousness.

“It is clear that Maccabi and Zionism have always gone and will always go together, and the name Maccabi comes from this source. All of it is connected, and I am proud that we have a connection to commemorate the Jews of North Macedonia together with the Jewish Impact Center and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs,” Mizrahi added.

Dan Orin – Photo Credit: Maccabi Tel Aviv

Dan Orin, the Israeli Ambassador to North Macedonia also spoke about the importance of the event, “The entire Jewish community of Northern Macedonia was destroyed, and we march in her memory every year as part of the March of the Living. Due to the coronavirus’s limitations, we had to cancel the parade and looked for another way to illuminate their memory.

“There is one Jew left, and there is no one left to tell the story,” Orin said. “Since it was impossible to march this year, we decided to commemorate their memory with Hanukkah candles – and we are happy about the partnership with the Center for Jewish Impact and with Maccabi Tel Aviv in basketball in doing so.”

Robert Singer – Photo Credit: Maccabi Tel Aviv

Robert Singer, the Chairman of the Center for Jewish Impact discussed the Jewish Community that as destroyed, “The Jewish Community of North Macedonia was wiped out twice, during the Holocaust when only 2% survived and the second time when their memory and story aren’t publicized and remembered. By participating in this project on Chanukah together with Maccabi Tel Aviv gives an opportunity to illuminate the memory of the community while celebrating the holiday along with promoting their memories.”

”I built a huge yellow sundial in the old cemetery in Bitola in memory of the community,” said Matty Greenberg. “After seeing all the yellow jerseys here, I promise you that I will put the Maccabi logo on the sundial so that there will be a connection between the two.”

Matty Greenberg – Photo Credit: Maccabi Tel Aviv

On the eve of World War II, the Jewish community in Macedonia stood at about 7,800 Jews. During the war, Macedonia was annexed by the Bulgarian government, which persecuted the Jews in the areas under its control. In March of 1943, actions against the Jews were held all over the country by Bulgarian police and soldiers.

According to the Bulgarian Ministry of the Interior, 7,826 Jews were arrested in Macedonia, 7,215 of whom were transferred on March 11 to the “Monopol” tobacco factory in the city of Skopje. The Jews crammed locked into the wooden bunks of the factory while surrounded by the Bulgarian soldiers. Eleven Jews managed to escape arrest and 76 were released because they had foreign citizenship. The rest were put into cattle cars and sent to Treblinka, where 7,144 Jews were murdered. May they rest in peace.

Photo Credit: Maccabi Tel Aviv

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