Kosovo in Talks With Jewish Community to Establish Synagogue, Community Center

The Jewish community favors a community center in Prizren, the historical town where much of the country’s tiny Jewish community of 56 is concentrated.

An undated photo of a plinth commemorating the Holocaust in an enclave where Kosovo’s parliament now stands, Pristina, Kosovo.
Ron Kampeas / JTA Photo Archives

Jewish community representatives have recently held discussions with the government and with municipal authorities in Kosovo to establish a synagogue or Jewish community center.

The talks were held in Pristina, Kosovo's capital and largest city, and in Prizren, the historical town where much of the country’s tiny Jewish community of 56 is concentrated.

Ines Demiri, a Foreign Ministry official who is also the daughter of Votim Demiri, the Jewish community’s president, told JTA last week that the Jewish community favors a community center in Prizren, modeled on the Holocaust memorial in Skopje, in neighboring Macedonia. Pristina’s mayor earlier this year embraced the idea of a synagogue in his city.

The Skopje memorial features an accounting of the destruction of the Macedonian Jewish community during the Holocaust, but also is a record of the community when it was thriving. It serves as a gathering place for community events and for holidays for the extant community.

Of Kosovo’s Jewish community of 551 before World War II, 220 are estimated to have been murdered by the Nazis. Its synagogues and Jewish institutions were destroyed during Yugoslavia’s communist period.

Kosovo, formerly a region of Serbia, is a majority Muslim country that declared independence in 2008 with the backing of the United States. It has striven to emphasize its secular, pro-Western outlook and each spring invites leaders of faith communities worldwide to discuss inter-religious cooperation at a conference.

Serbian-speaking Jews for the most part left during the 1999 war with Serbia, and most of the remaining community speaks Albanian, the language of the country’s Muslim majority.