Believed by locals to be the first time the Jewish community in the Albanian capital of Tirana has gathered to dedicate a Torah scroll since World War II, hundreds of people celebrated the event with Israeli Chief Rabbi Yona Metzger at the city’s new synagogue.

Led by Chabad-Lubavitch Rabbi Yoel Kaplan, the city’s chief rabbi, the celebration saw guests ink the last few letters of the holy scroll, which was donated by Israeli businessman Meir Schijveschuurder in memory of the parents and siblings he lost 10 years ago in a suicide bombing outside of a Sbarro restaurant in Jerusalem.

Earlier in the day, celebrants discussed communal affairs with Albanian President Bamir Topi, Prime Minister Sali Berisha and Tirana Mayor Edi Rama in a meeting coordinated by Rabbi Levi Matusof.

The celebration followed by days the official recognition by Albania’s government of the Jewish community and its infrastructure.

Photos: Meir Alfasi
Photos: Meir Alfasi

Israeli Chief Rabbi Yona Metzger writes a letter in the new Torah scroll dedicated by the newly-recognized Jewish community in Tirana, Albana, as Chabad-Lubavitch Rabbi Yoel Kaplan, the city’s chief rabbi, looks on.


The celebration saw guests ink the last few letters of the holy scroll, which was donated by Israeli businessman Meir Schijveschuurder in memory of the parents and siblings he lost 10 years ago in a suicide bombing outside of a Sbarro restaurant in Jerusalem.


The celebration followed by days the official recognition by Albania’s government of the Jewish community and its infrastructure.


Each Torah scroll contains more than 300,000 letters.


Donated by Meir Schijveschuurder in memory of the family he lost 10 years ago, the Torah scroll joins others around the world memorializing those killed in a Jerusalem suicide bombing.


Celebrants danced in Tirana’s streets, keeping their new Torah scroll under a traditional wedding canopy.


The celebration followed by days the official recognition by Albania’s government of the Jewish community and its infrastructure.


With the support of the philanthropic Rohr Family and Rabbi Moshe Kotlarsky, vice chairman of Merkos L’Iyonei Chinuch, the educational arm of Chabad-Lubavitch, Rabbi Yoel Kaplan is helping fuel a Jewish resurgence among community members of all ages.


Earlier in the day, celebrants discussed communal affairs with Albanian President Bamir Topi, Prime Minister Sali Berisha and Tirana Mayor Edi Rama in a meeting coordinated by Rabbi Levi Matusof.