Monday, December 14, 2009


That's really the only way to describe yesterday's destruction of a giant Hanukkah menora sited in Chisinau's Europe Square.

For your information, a Hanukkah menora is a nine-branched candleholder used by people of the Jewish faith to celebrate the overthrow of Seleucid rule and the subsequent return of the temple in Jerusalem.  Hanukkah is one of the major festivals in the Jewish calendar and falls around the same time as Christmas.

The Hanukkah menora in question was only installed a few days ago.  It was dismounted yesterday by an Orthodox priest, Anatolie Cibric, and a group of around 100 parishioners from Saint Parascheva's church.  In it's place they placed a small wooden cross.

What they did was wrong in many, many ways:

1.  Historic.  Chisinau has a long and deep history as a Jewish city; in the year 1900 around half of the city's population was Jewish.  This proportion dwindled away over the course of the twentieth centruy as both the holocaust and emigration to Israel took their toll.

2.  Political.  Moldova is a secular state in which the majority of people just happen to be orthodox.  The Orthodox Church (or sections of it) have no special rights to impose their will on people of other faiths and confessions.

3.  Criminal.  Moldova has laws on its books which make 'instigating ethnic hatred' a crime, punishable by up to three years of imprisonment.

4.  Moral.  How dare you do this to a people who have suffered so greatly!  How dare you use your position and power as the dominant religion in the land to attack a smaller, weaker faith?  This is the opposite of the gospel Jesus preached.

There are all sorts of conspiracy theories floating around.  One has the Russians, the Jewish community and the Orthodox community colluding in an attempt to discredit Moldova before the European Union.  Another has the Communist Party provoking Cibric and his group into committing the provocation in an attempt to further divide society.

The theories may have their merits, but I hope that the Moldovan justice system sticks to the facts.  The sight of this priest and his followers being tried and convicted will send a powerful signal to others who wish to do evil to 'the other'.


  1. In a century, or at least a decade if we want to go micro, of struggling for civil rights and respect, I hope that the instigators are punished according to the law. Yes, the is a blatant, shameful act that send a sick message to the world. Legal consequeces would at least underline the Moldavian states refusal of unlawful, hateful behaviour..especially by the clergy.

  2. The PCRM has issued a communique in which it manages to find a way to blame the AIE for the attack. Pathetic.

  3. Leaving aside the moral repugnance of this act, it is extremely unfortunate, practically speaking, for Moldova's prospects of being "graduated" from Jackson-Vanik.