Zagreb celebrates 200 years of Jewish life

ZAGREB (EJP) --- Indian-born American conductor Zubin Mehta joined the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra for a concert on Wednesday celebrating the 200th anniversary of the Jewish community of Zagreb.

The concert was also seen as one of the first steps towards improved relations between Croatia and Israel and began a year of celebrations for the 200 year old community.

Todays concert is just the beginning of celebration. Until the end of the year we will organize more concerts and exhibitions community president Ognjen Kraus, told EJP.

The community in Zagreb was founded in 1806 and it had 70 members.

Between two world wars the communtiy numbered around 11,000, but after the WWII only one out of four Jews in Zagreb survived the Holocaust.

Today around 1,500 Jews are living in the Croatian capital.

After the concert, celebrations of the anniversary will continue on 5 June with the start of the Israeli week.

This concert is also a first step towards launching a partnership agreement between Zagreb and Tel Aviv that Zagreb mayor, Milan Bandi, would like to continue.

At the end of April, the mayor visited Israel where he met with mayor of Jerusalem Uri Lupolianski and the mayor of Tel Aviv Ron Huldai whom he invited to Wednesdays concert.

I dont have time to come to concert but I hope that we will have better co-operation in the future. At the meeting we talked about the problem that every big city has today and one of them is traffic, Huldai told his Zagreb counterpart.

The two mayors agreed that experts will exchange their experiences in building a metro.

Tel Aviv will soon start with building its underground and Zagreb is still waiting to hear opinion of experts.

Historicaly, Croatia and Israel have had good political relationships but are hoping to increase trade.

Tourism is also another part of bilateral exchanges. Some 200,000 Israelis tourists visiting the Dalmatian coast each summer but far less Croatians visit Israel.

By Vanja Nezirovi in Zagreb


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