Center for Jewish-Bulgarian cooperation

Burgas’ student will present Bulgaria in the forum for young leaders in Israel

University students took part in Center “Alef”’s competition for the first time

Stella Nikolova from the German language school “Goethe” Bourgas received the big prize in Alef’s Literary Competition “Who saves one human life, saves a whole universe”. She will present Bulgaria at the International Congress for Young Leaders at HaKfar HaYarok  – Israel. In the prestigious one-week world forum, nominated young people in various areas of public life from all over the world took part.

The award was given by Rumyana Bachvarova, head of the Cabinet of the Prime Minister and future Ambassador of Bulgaria to Israel during an extremely emotional ceremony at the Cultural Center “Sea Casino” in Burgas.

“It has always been difficult for me to tell the story of the saving of the Bulgarian Jews to people from abroad, to answer the question: Why did this happen? We know how it happened, we know some details of the story, but it is difficult to explain and feel why. The stories, with which the youngsters participate in this contest, show a new sensitivity.
I hope you to continue stimulating and gather them so that we can formulate this answer. The fact that so many young people have responded to this idea, show that the motto of the contest – “To Love, despite …” is universal and important in our life”- said Rumiana Bachvarova, when she gave the award.

To congratulate the winners of the literary competition on May 9 in the “Georgi Baev” Hall of the Sea Casino came the mayor of Burgas-  Dimitar Nikolov, Rositsa Ivanova – secretary of the National Council for Cooperation on Ethnic and Integration Issues, Deputy Mayor – Yordanka Ananieva, Deputy Governor of Burgas- Sevdalina Tourmanova, the General Consul of the Republic of Turkey in Burgas- Nuray Inontepe, the director of the Local Directorate to Ministry of the Interior- Senior Commissioner Kaloyan Kaloyanov, Agapopolis Bishop Ierotopey, Representative of the Sliven Metropolitan Ioaniki, Ivanka Gezenko – expert at State Agency Archives, honorary consuls, municipal councillors, representatives of non-governmental organizations, representatives of the Burgas Jewish community, journalists, teachers. There were also many students in the room, who came to support their friends in the race. Special greeting addresses were sent from the Ministry of Education and Science, the Commission of Economic Policy and Tourism to the National Assembly, the Embassy of State Israel to Bulgaria, the Polish Institute, the Union of Thracian Societies in Bulgaria and Lions Club Burgas. The competition is conducted for the sixth consecutive year and it has already involved about 1,000 young people from more than 70 settlements in the country. This year, Alef for the first time changed the genre and suggested to the young people to mix the historical reality with their imagination and to write a narrative on the subject: “To love, despite …”. The age range was extended. The competition was held in two categories – “High school” ” and “University” students. 129 high school students from over 40 cities and villages and 16 university students from 11 universities sent their works. The jury, who has the difficult task of distinguishing the best works, consists of: Rumen Leonidov – poet and publisher of the site Fakel.bg, Asen Yordanov – journalist and director of the site Bivol.bg and Alberta Alkalay – founder of the competition and chairman of Center Alef.The jury nominated 20 stories and “Alef” traditionally invited their authors at the award ceremony in Burgas on the expense of the organizer.

“You are all winners, because you are here – address the participants Rumen Leonidov. – It’s amazing how one family initiative has grown into a national one.  And how with the support of the local authorities, Burgas became a centre of the solidarity in the country. With this initiative the grandsons of the rescued Jews saved our heroes – the saviours – from oblivion. This competition with certainty borns future writers. “

Two messages, based on old writings and parables, said Asen Yordanov to the young artists: “Always choose the hard way because: Wide and straight is the road to destruction, and many are the ones who walk on it. Narrow, steep, and difficult is the way to life, and few are going to walk on it- have said the Saviour”.

Try to overcome the sense of fear – this is the message of this year’s competition. To love despite the difficulties, despite fear, threats, limitations. When a person overcomes the fear feels freedom and true love. But when love is gone, there is nothing else. “

“It’s amazing how so many young people can express their emotions with such maturity. This year we chose a theme that touched the hearts of young people. Refract through personal experiences, told in families and between friends – the participants managed to cross the boundary of the historical facts and enter the complex space of artistic literature. This year, for the first time Alef collected and published a collection of award-winning essays from the first five editions of the competition. We will do our best to make the magnificent stories of this year contest also published in a special volume, “said Alberta Alkalay.

Due to the large number of high school student works, the jury decided to redirect the third prize of the “University Students” category to the category “High-School Students”.

First Prize in the category “University Students” – 400 lv. received Vladimir Iliev from Sofia University. The second prize of 300 lv. was awarded to Iva Gadjeva from the University of Bern.

In the category “High School Students” one second prize of 300 lv. and two third prizes of 200 leva each were awarded. The second place was awarded to Marinella Getova from Plovdiv. The third place was scored by Kosara Koleva from Hayredin and Michaela Zaharieva from Sliven.

All nominees received encouraging awards – books. In front of the numerous audience, the students gathered in a kind of “Humanity Lesson” to read part of their essays of love and humanism and share the inspiration that led them to participate in the competition. Luisa Slavkova, executive director of Sofia Platform Foundation, came into the role of the teacher. During the “hour of humanity” the audience, who had to give their vote and choose their favourite, took part as well. The prize of the audience – a tablet, won Maria Merdzhanova from the mathematical high school in Burgas.

A special mood in the awards ceremony was brought by the actors from the “Talentino” theater- Boryana Stambolieva and Petar Hubekov, who in the roles of Esther and Pavel played a scene, illustrating the love between a Bulgarian and a Jewish at the time of the Holocaust, and the young singer Maria Bakardzhieva from the choral school “Milka Stoeva”.

A natural background of the ceremony was the exhibition “1943: Persecution and Protection. The Fate of the Bulgarian Jews “, provided specifically for the event by the Central State Archives. The exhibition will be available to the citizens and guests of Burgas until 17 May.

“I am happy that Burgas is the capital of this initiative. I congratulate the participants for their courage to join the competition and the organizers – Center Alef for the flame that they support in the young people and direct them to the highest human value – humanism, “said the mayor of Burgas- Dimitar Nikolov.

A day after the award ceremony, the laureates of the 6th Literary Competition visited the UNESCO City Nessebar. Every year, at the finals of the competition “Alef” organizes for its young guests various entertainment. This year, they met the emergence and history of one of the oldest cities in Europe.

Co-sponsors of the initiative were: Burgas Municipality, National Council for Cooperation on Ethnic and Integration Issues, GERB-Burgas, Archives State Agency, BMF Port Burgas, SK OOD, Bulgarien Direct Raisen EOOD.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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