The World Jewish Congress and its more than 100 affiliated communities across the globe deeply mourn the death of Jaša Alfandari, founder and president of the Jewish Community of Montenegro.
Jaša was an exceptional Jewish communal leader and highly respected among his peers in the World Jewish Congress network and across the Balkans.
Jaša worked tirelessly on behalf of the Jewish people, and achieved incredible success in reinvigorating the community of Montenegro. He also infused life into the Jewish communities of Yugoslavia at large, including helping to consolidate the Jewish communities of Albania and Kosovo, and fighting for the preservation and immortalization of the memory of Holocaust victims.
Jaša spent most of his life in Israel where he toiled for the benefit of the Jewish state. He spent his last 25 years in Montenegro, where he officially founded the Jewish community in 2011 and was elected to be its president.
In less than four years, Jaša turned a tiny community into one of the most active and respected Jewish communities in the Balkans.
In January 2012, the Jewish community of Montenegro and the government of Montenegro signed an Agreement that became an official testimony to the strength of their relationship. For the first time in the history of Montenegro, Judaism became one of its official religions.
Jaša also initiated the Conference of Jewish Communities of South-Eastern and Central Europe (MAHAR), now in its fifth year, the largest forum bringing together Balkan Jewish communities and successfully united the Jews of the region. Jaša was tremendously proud of this program, and the World Jewish Congress will remain an enthusiastic co-sponsor of this event
At the 2014 MAHAR conference in Budva, the World Jewish Congress’ regional affiliate, the Euro-Asian Jewish Congress, decorated Jaša for his substantial contribution to the development of Jewish communities in the Balkans.
Jaša was an unparalleled figure in the Jewish world, whose loyalty and vigor will never be forgotten. May the Alfandri family, the Jewish communities of Montenegro and across the former Yugoslavia, and the people of the Balkans be comforted among the mourners of Zion.