A prayer for peace took place at the Central Synagogue in Sofia on Sunday. The event was organized by the Shalom Organization of Jews in cooperation with the Central Israeli Spiritual Council, Zionist Federation in Bulgaria, the Friends of Israel in Bulgaria Negev association and the American Jewish Committee in Bulgaria.
The event was a call for peace following the unprecedented terrorist attack on Israel on October 7.
The ceremony was attended by President Rumen Radev, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Mariya Gabriel, National Assembly Chair Rossen Zhelyazkov, Sofia Mayor Yordanka Fandakova, diplomats, among other public figures.
At the ceremony, President Radev said: “In these sad days, following the horrific Hamas terrorist attack on Israel, we pay our deepest respects to the memory of all the innocent victims. The scenes of brutal cruelty and violence, of violation of human dignity, have unleashed a wave of anger and outrage around the world. We have always condemned, and will continue to condemn, terrorism in all its shapes and forms in the strongest possible terms. Acts of terrorism and violence can never be justified in any way or by any political cause. Quite the opposite, terrorism should be systematically and uncompromisingly opposed.”
Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Gabriel said: “We condemn the brutal terrorist attacks by Hamas in Israel. Sincere condolences to the victims and their families. There is no justification for terror. Israel has the right to defend itself in accordance with humanitarian and international law. The hostages must be released without any preconditions.” Gabriel added that a regional escalation of the conflict must be prevented. “Prayer is man’s greatest power. Let us all together, with a prayer for peace, give strength to those in need, and express our support to the people of Israel,” she pleaded.
National Assembly Chair Zhelyazkov said that Bulgarians call many peoples friendly as this is enshrined in the Bulgarians’ value system, but the Jewish and Bulgarian peoples are a true brotherly people. He recalled that the National Assembly adopted a declaration in support of Israel. In his words, this is not only a political act of solidarity, but human support. “We grieve for our brothers and sisters today, on this day of mourning, and pray for the souls of the dead, the living, for all those who will carry out the just fight against terrorism,” Zhelyazkov added.
Sofia Mayor Yordanka Fandakova said: “Sofia, the city of divine wisdom, sends a strong message in support of the Jewish people. We have proved many times over the centuries that different religions and ethnicities can and must coexist in peace and harmony and that the forces that wish destruction must be defeated.” She added that “the values of humanity and goodness unite us to raise our voices in support of Israel, its people, and peace on Earth”.
Acting Prosecutor General Borislav Sarafov said: “We have witnessed one of the bloodiest acts of terrorism in human history. This is an atrocity that crosses all the boundaries of normal human civilization. We must be unrelenting. The prosecution service of the Republic of Bulgaria will pursue any manifestation of radical Islam vigorously, relentlessly.”
Israel’s Ambassador to Bulgaria Yosef Levi Sfari said: “We built a democratic state from scratch. The world vowed for no more violence anymore.” Sfari added that this promise was broken on October 7. “In just a few hours, Hamas committed all possible crimes against humanity. Over 6,000 shells were sent towards Israeli cities. This is an act of terrorism,” he pointed out. The diplomat thanked the people present in the synagogue for coming and expressing their sympathy.