This article was originally published in the European Jewish Press on July 13, 2018. It can be found here.
PODGORICA—The President of the Jewish Community in Montenegro, Jasha Alfandari, died Thursday at the age of 72.
He will be remembered as the man who rebuilt and unified the Jewish religious life in the country, but also as an erudite and humanist. He played an important role in developing good interpersonal and interreligious relationships, and in affirming the rights of minorities and religious communities.
Jasha Alfandari was born in Subotica on August 28, 1946. He spent most of his life in Israel, where he had ”important activities for the country.”
He spent the last 25 years in Montenegro where he founded the Jewish community, which thanks to his work and activities became recognizable in the region alone, but also in the whole world.
Last year, the small Balkan country got its first full time rabbi, Rabbi Ari Edelkopf, a Los Angeles-born Chabad rabbi, since it became independent in 2006 from Serbia. Edelkopf came from Russia. Montengegro’s first synagogue will soon be opening in Podgorica.
”Today, around 500 Jews live in the country, not only in the capital Podgorica but also in various parts of the country,” Rabbi Edelkopf told European Jewish Press (EJP).
Jasha Alfandari left behind his wife, five children and six grandchildren. He will be buried in Subotica.
Learn more about Mr. Alfandri's efforts in rebuilding Jewish life in Monenegro in a WJC interview from November, 2015.