Garibashvili to Attend Anniversary of the Oldest Synagogue in Georgia

Prime Minister of Georgia Irakli Garibashvili will attend the anniversary of the country’s oldest functioning synagogue, leaders of Georgia’s Jewish community say.

Reportedly, the ceremony of 2nd September, will take place in Oni, a town located on a mountain ridge northwest of the capital Tbilisi. According to Jewish ritual slaughterer Micho Benzion, the Prime Minister will be the guest of honor at the 120-year-old temple.

“It’s a bittersweet occasion,” he said. “On the one hand, it’s symbolic of how the government supports us here, in a country with virtually no anti-Semitism. On the other, it’s a reminder of how our oldest synagogue, once full of life, has become a monument.”

Looking back through history, Oni seems to have once been a city that housed a vibrant Jewish community, but the population has nearly died out with only 16 Jews remaining. Moreover, Georgia used to have 250,000 Jews, who belong to an ancient community that some believe dates back 2,000 years and has developed its own endemic customs, including special prayer styles. Most of them moved to Israel in the 1970s and 1990s, with only a few thousand remaining in Georgia.

24 August 2015 14:06