Nobel Peace Prize for the Bulgarian Orthodox Church for Protecting the Jewish Minority
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During World War II, the Bulgarian Independent Orthodox Church, The Holy Synod, voted unanimously condeming the anti-semitic racist laws.
Sign the petition (below) urging the Nobel Peace Committee to award the Nobel Peace Prize to the Bulgarian Church for their bravery.
This is an initiative by the Israeli Committee on friendly relations with Bulgaria, headed by Advocate Moshe Aloni, born in Bulgaria and himself saved during the war.
The Bulgarian government was an ally of Nazi Germany. On March 2, 1943, following a raft of anti-semitic laws, Bulgaria’s council of ministers approved a plan for the deportation of the country's Jews to the death camps.
In the face of this plan, the Bulgarian Independent Orthodox Church showed bravery and leadership by fighting against and condemning the anti-Semitic laws. This effort was headed, among many others, by two heroic clergymen:
- Metropolitan (Bishop) Stephan, the head of the Sofian Church, and the highest ranking Bulgarian Church official during the Holocaust, and
- Metropolitan Kiril, the head of the Church in the Bulgarian city of Plovdiv.
These two bishops were prominent in responding when the heinous decision was brought to their attention. They have been recognized as Righteous Among the Nations by Yad V'Shem in Jerusalem.
Some of the brave actions they took include:
- In early March 1943, as preparations were being made by the Bulgarian Governement to hand over the first group of 800 Jews from Sofia to the Germans, Metropolitan Stephan immediately traveled to the King’s Palace, asking the postponement of the anti-Jewish decisions.
- Metropolitan (Bishop) Stephan continued to speak out publicly against the persecution of the Jews, putting his life at risk as the Bulgarian Fascist Party called for his death in 1943.
- As the deportation of 1,500 Jews of the city of Plovdiv began in March 1943, local Bishop Metropolitan Kiril succeeded in halting it. Kiril threatened to lie across the railway tracks in order to stop the deportation. Meanwhile he took the arrested Jews to the Church to protect.
- In April 1943 Metropolitan Stephan convened a special Holy Synod plenary session to discuss the persecution of the country’s converted Jews, as well as all other Jews. It was decided that the Bulgarian Church could not accept this racist law and that the Church could not deny help and protection to the persecuted and oppressed Jews.
Due to the heroic acts of these two prominent leaders and their willingness to speak up and take action, the deportation of the Jews of Bulgaria was postponed again and again until it was finally cancelled with the end of the war.
More about these two outstanding individuals at the Yad Vashem website: http://www.yadvashem.org/yv/en/pressroom/pressreleases/pr_details.asp?cid=334#!prettyPhoto
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