Crown Prince Alexander of Serbia has extended his congratulations for the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah to the Ambassador of Israel to Serbia, Mr Jahel Villan; the Chief Rabbi of Serbia, Mr Isak Asiel; the President of the Federation of Jewish Communities, Mr Robert Sabados; and all members of the Jewish community in Serbia.
In his statement, His Royal Highness says: “I wish all members of the Jewish community in Serbia to spend the great holiday of light, Hanukkah, in health, peace and joy together with their loved ones. I hope that the warmth and light with which Hanukkah candles illuminate every home will inspire all of us to wholeheartedly advocate for a better and more tolerant society. May this great holiday bring you and your family health, love, peace and prosperity.”
Hanukkah is a Jewish festival commemorating the rededication of the Second Temple in Jerusalem at the time of the Maccabean Revolt against the Seleucid Empire. It is also known as the Festival of Lights. In 2020, the celebration started on 10 December and will last for the next eight days.
Serbia’s Jewish community was first documented in Roman times; however, the Jewish community in the Balkans was relatively small until the late 15th century when Jews, who fled the Spanish and Portuguese Inquisitions, found refuge in areas in Eastern Europe that included Serbia.
The Jewish community thrived and once had 33,000 in Serbia before World War II; tragically, around two-thirds of Serbian Jews died in the Holocaust. In the 2011 census, only 787 people claimed to be Jewish. Today, the Belgrade Synagogue and the Subotica Synagogue are the two in-service synagogues in Serbia, the latter once was the fourth largest synagogue building in Europe.
Crown Prince Alexander of Serbia is the heir to the defunct throne of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia and the head of the House of Karađorđević. Alexander is the only child of former King Peter II and his wife, Queen Alexandra. Alexander is known for his support of monarchism and his humanitarian work for the people of Serbia.