A photo exhibition entitled “Jewish Bulgaria” will open on November 7 at the Bulgarian Cultural Institute in Budapest, the organizers announced to BTA.
The exhibition, which has already been presented in Sofia, London, Prague and Szeged, consists of 60 large-format photographs taken over a period of over 10 years. It reflects with the means of documentary photography 20 centuries of Jewish heritage in Bulgaria.
Its author, journalist and photographer Antoni Georgiev, says: “The earliest artifacts related to Jews in our lands date back to the 1st century AD – this is a menorah (Jewish candlestick) carved into a piece of marble in the old Roman Ulpia escus garrison near today’s village of Gigen, Pleven region. One of the most impressive examples of Bulgarian Jewish heritage is a large mosaic, also depicting a menorah, which is currently being restored and is located in the Archaeological Museum in Plovdiv. For these 20 centuries, the Jews have left for generations a rich culture in the fields of architecture, literature, poetry and, of course, music. Unfortunately, however, much of the Jewish heritage is currently in poor condition – abandoned or crumbling. In cities where historically there were many Jews – for example Burgas and Yambol, the old synagogues are now art galleries. But in Varna, the Sephardic synagogue is without a roof and in a deplorable condition. And the largest and oldest Jewish cemetery in Bulgaria – the one in Karnobat, is abandoned, ransacked and looks like a picture from the Last Judgment,” says the author.
This exhibition contains many sad images of collapsing synagogues, abandoned cemeteries, long unopened Bibles – a world that has gone and will never return, adds Antoni Georgiev.
According to him, the Jewish heritage of Bulgaria is not only sadness and melancholy. The Sofia Synagogue, which is the largest Sephardic synagogue in Europe, was opened on a very symbolic date – 09.09.1909 in the presence of King Ferdinand and Queen Eleonora. For its centenary, it was completely renovated. Apart from it, the other active synagogue in Bulgaria is in Plovdiv. Both are tourist attractions, and the life of the Jewish community in Bulgaria, united in the Shalom Organization of Bulgarian Jews, is flourishing, says Georgiev.
The exhibition will be presented by the Hungarian writer of Jewish origin Gabor Shein and will be accompanied by a chamber concert featuring Gabriela Hadzhikostova (vocals) and Attila Shimon (piano).
The Bulgarian Cultural Institute in the Hungarian capital is located at 14 Andrassy Blvd. The exhibition will be in Budapest until December 4.