One of the award-winning children started crying for the victims of the bombing in Burgas Airport
Center for Jewish-Bulgarian Cooperation “Alef” awarded the winners of the Fifth National Literary Student Competition “Who saved one human life, saves the whole universe”. The event in Burgas was honoured by the Ambassador of the State of Israel in Bulgaria H.E. Irit Lillian. It coincided with the special day
Yom HaShoah, which is a day of mourning and tribute to Holocaust victims for all Jews in the world and in Israel is honoured by the state.
Among the official guests of the award ceremony for the best authors in the contest were also Dr. Maxim Benvensti – Chairperson of the Cedaka Foundation – OEB Shalom, the chairpersons of the regional organizations of Shalom in Burgas, Shumen, Stara Zagora and Sliven – Tiko Varsano, Beta Haralanova, Krasimira Goteva and Julia Gavazova, the deputies Diana Yordanova and Nikolay Tishev, Deputy Mayor of Burgas Municipality- Yordanka Ananieva,The Head of Prosecutor’s Office in Burgas – prosecutor Lubomir Petrov, The director of the Regional Directorate of Interior Affairs in Bourgas- senior commissioner Kaloyan Kaloyanov, Liora and Eliane Asa from the United States and Israel.
More than 120 young people from around 35 settlements from all over the country participated in the literary competition. They could choose one of the three themes for their essays:
* If a time machine “send you back” to Bulgaria in March 1943, what would you do?
* If there is a political regime in the future that practise genocide, what choice would you make and what sacrifices could you bear?
* I was one of the saved…
The in-depth studies of the students show extraordinary empathy and active civilian attitude. The large number of quality texts made the jury, that consist of: Mihailina Pavlova – editor-in-chief of the newspaper “Jewish News” and Lestrea magazine; senior editor in BNR-Rumen Leonidov – writer, poet, publisher, and Asen Yordanov – journalist, poet and director of the site Bivol.bg, very difficult.
“We are aware that young people have been placed in a difficult situation – how to act without having accumulated life experience. The results are impressive. Students ask many questions that the future might answer. They themselves turn from storytellers to creators of history, “summed up the opinion of the jury its chairperson Mihailina Pavlova.
In its difficulty of choose the best works, the jury awarded more awards than usual. For the first place was chosen the essay of Monika Mitova. The 16-year-old girl from Blagoevgrad was awarded the Grand Prize – she will present Bulgaria in a one-week world forum for young leaders in Israel. The award was given by H.E. Irit Lillian, who praised highly the idea of the contest, that pass the memory of the dignity acts of children’s ancestors to the future generations.
One of the award winning children, Sabrina Hodzhova from Yakoruda, started crying in front of the audience as she was talking about her motivation to participate in the contest. Sabrina remembered her uncle Mustafa Kyosov, who was one of the victims of the terrorist attack on Israeli tourists at Bourgas Airport in the summer of 2012. The girl could not restrain her emotions and promised to give her everything she can to fight against anti-human acts of murder and cruelties based on ethnic, racial and religious differences.
There were two second prizes of 250 leva each. They were awared to Janssel Mümün, 17, from Chernoochene and Dimitar Panayotov, 15, from Silistra.
Two third prizes of 150 leva each were also awarded to Sabrina Hodja, 17, from Yakoruda and the 15-year-old Georgi Minchev from Sofia.
The prize-giving ceremony was attended by all 20 nominated students from all over the country. They received encouraging awards – books and diplomas.
“We announced this contest because we are convinced that people need to know the history in order not to experience it again. The young people share our values, and that gives us confidence about the future, “the president of Center Alef – Alberta Alkalay declared.
Before the start of the ceremony in the Marine Casino Cultural Center, H.E. Irit Lillian gave start to the exhibition “Beyond Duty”, created by the World Holocaust Remembrance Center. The exhibition, which will remain in the Georgi Baev Hall until 18 April and is in Burgas thanks to the Embassy of Israel in Bulgaria, tells about the work of 28 diplomats from 21 countries, who saved thousands of Jews from deportation in the death camps and announced by the memorial Yad Vashem for “Righteous of the World.”
“I present you the exhibition not only to look at it, but to feel it and take it with you,” said Ambassador Lillian, who recalls the memory of a Swedish diplomat, who saved her father from death, to whom she owes her life.
Only 20 Bulgarians are recognized by “Yad Vashem” for “righteous of the world,” but probably they will become more with time. Hundreds and thousands were the people who were willing to sacrifice themselves in order to save their fellow from Jewish descent from death.
For the first time the names of unknown till those days 79 brave Bulgarians and 6 organizations have been presented in the book “75 Years – the Unforgettable Faces of Salvation”. The edition of OEB “Shalom” was presented by its initiator Dr. Maxim Benvenisti, a chairperson of “Cedaka” Foundation part of OEB Shalom. He assured that the book would be reissued and that each subsequent edition would contain even more names. “This book gathers the memory of people with different political beliefs and proves that there might be ideas that unite. It is the first step towards building the Pantheon of the rescuers of the Bulgarian Jews” said Dr. Benventi.
For the first time this year Center “Alef” awarded with its honorable honor “Keeper of the Memory”. The first honoured were the mayor of Burgas Dimitar Nikolov and Dr. Maxim Benvensti.
Particular excitement among the attendants provoked the words of Eliane Asa. She arrived from California, USA, along with her daughter, Liora, especially to thank the organizers from Center Alef for their mission to pass on the values of the past. “I want to express my deep appreciation to the Bulgarian people, because due to their heroism 75 years ago, today I have 4 children and 12 grandchildren …”, says with tears in the eyes the 80-year-old woman.
For five years since the beginning of the literary competition, over 800 mid-school children from more than 30 Bulgarian cities have joined with their own works on various topics. High evaluation of the contest gave also the first secretary of the Embassy of the Russian Federation in Bulgaria, Elena Prihodko. According to her with their works the young people of Bulgaria have already gave their invaluable contribution to the preservation of the historical memory and are serve as an example of an active role in the social processes.
The competition is organized with the assistance of the Municipality of Bourgas, Embassy of the State of Israel in Bulgaria, OEB Shalom, Ronald Lauder Foundation, Liora Asa and the family, Dr. Maxim Benvenisti, National Council for Cooperation on Ethnic and Integration Issues at the Council of Ministers, BMF ” Port Bourgas “, SK OOD.,” Transstroi eco “,” In love with the wind” Castle,” New Life “clinic, hotel” Bulgaria “.