The closure of Romania’s Chairmanship of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance
On the picture the ambassador of Romania H.E. Brânduşa Predescu.
By Sheila Turabaz.
On the 2nd of March, the Embassy of Romania organized a conference entitled “The Jews from Romania in the European Context: Similarities and Differences”, on the occasion of the closure of Romania’s Chairmanship of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA).
The IHRA is an intergovernmental organization founded in 1998 with the objective of attracting support from political and social leaders for expanding and improvement of Holocaust education, remembrance and research.
The IHRA currently has 31 member countries and eleven observer countries and has an annually rotating chairmanship. A member country will be responsible for organizing activities in the sphere of Holocaust education and commemoration. Romania served as chairman of the organization from March 2016 to March 2017.
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The event took place at the Glazen Zaal in The Hague, with the façade of the 18th century former Portuguese synagogue serving as a backdrop. The evening commenced with a word of welcome by H.E. Ms. Brânduşa Predescu, Ambassador of Romania to the Netherlands, Rabbi Marianne van Praag of the Liberal Jewish Community in The Hague and Ms. Carmen Ducaru, Deputy Director of the Romanian Cultural Institute in Brussels.
Ms. Van Praag mentioned that “The Liberal Jewish community is very much alive – 120,000 Jews were part of the community before the war and only 20,000 Jews after the war –, and have built a very small, but strong Jewish community”.
Ms. Van Praag expressed her gratitude to the ambassador for organizing the event and “for trying to give every one of the six million Jews (who died in the Holocaust) a face”. Ms. Predescu stated that “We again find ourselves today in times of turmoil, where anti-Semitism, hate and intolerance unfortunately persist, but let us not despair, because we must act, because we are able to act and we are able to prevent and reject these demons that are still plaguing us”.
During the event, Professor Andrei Oisteanu from the University of Bucharest, Department for Jewish studies, launched his book “Inventing the Jew: Antisemitic Stereotypes in Romanian and Other Central-East European Cultures”, focusing on how stereotypes of Jews in these cultures have evolved throughout history.
Furthermore, the evening also marked the opening of the exhibition “Education and Remembrance of the Holocaust in Romania” created by Romania’s Chairmanship of the IHRA and the Elie Wiesel National Institute for the Study of the Holocaust in Romania.
Traditional Romanian and Jewish music was performed by mezzo-soprano Ms. Marcela Obermeister-Shasha.
On the 7th of March, Romania officially concluded the Chairmanship of the IHRA during a handover ceremony at the Embassy of Switzerland in Berlin. Switzerland will be the new Chairman of the IHRA until March 2018.