20160705_ Pearson-Terminal 1 (Sarajevo bound)

posted 5 Jul 2016, 06:46 by Lodzer Shabbat-Bulletin

Sarajevo - the Latin Bridge

Usage of archive photos in a piece of news is hardly exemplary journalism. Yet the usual dilemma of having to send the communique by Monday night (I am writing this from Pearson-Terminal 1, and my ignorance, alas, permits me not to entertain you with amusing stories of this fascinating airport) and keep it relevant for Shabbat when you are likely to read it, called for desperate measures.

I give you - the Latin Bridge.  (20160112, 3:14 PM)


This picture is mere 6 months old. In 2 days I am going to Sarajevo again, so you are looking pretty much at the real thing. The transparent plaque on the left recounts the story of what happened on the bridge 102 years and 1 week ago. Someone got very unlucky... Europe, to be precise.

Assassination of Archduke Ferdinand, the heir to the Austrian throne, and his wife on their wedding anniversary by a Serbian nationalist threw the world into the turmoil of world wars and chaos...

Oops. Hold it! Someone commented recently on following my previous posts from abroad with both interest and sadness. "Wherever you go, Rabbi, we hear about pogroms and calamities that befell Jews left and right". It was not at all offered as criticism, but definitely got my attention.

Let's not call this disclaimer a "resolution" but a notice of intent; I intend to spend this whole trip reporting on the good things that happened to the Jews and their neighbours wherever I go.

Of course, Sarajevo did have its share of terror and sadness, particularly during the last war that ripped Yugoslavia to shreds over 20 years ago. Here's a piece of unexpectedly upbeat trivia; the Rabbi here, during the war, issued fake papers certifying Jewish affiliation to hundreds of local families. He received a well deserved medal for his actions after the war; neither Bosnian nor Serb soldiers would touch the Jews, for fear of antagonizing Israel. Being able to show these IDs was likely the safest way out of besieged Sarajevo.

There are two synagogues in the city, Sephardic which serves as a museum paying tribute to the once thriving community, and the active "Ashkenazi" Schule complete with a JCC which in spite of its name is home to a 99% Sephardic congregation.

You may have heard of the most prominent Sephardi here. Sarajevo Haggadah was written in Barcelona in mid-14th century. Believe to have left with the Jews during 1492 expulsion, it resurfaced in Italy in 1560's, and only found its way to Sarajevo in 1894 when it was sold to the local National Museum.

Bosnian government surrounds the Haggadah with great reverence, even awe. The original can be viewed by the public only during Passover days; every year they turn one page (Rabbi is invited to do it together with the museum curator).


Through the rest of the year, one has to be satisfied with a well-executed facsimile.

Nowadays, the Rabbi of Sarajevo resides in Israel, and only comes over every few months. Lay leadership is run by Mr Jacob Finci, a national celebrity in his own merit. Here's the Wikipedia article about him, well worth reading: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jakob_Finci

Next on my bucket list of reporting: the food of the Balkans. Hope to have pictures for you in the next week's communique.

Shabbat Shalom,