Judaism to be official religion in Montenegro?

Montenegro - Montenegro will recognize Judaism as an official state religion, Prime Minister Igor Lukšić told a visiting delegation from the Rabbinical Centre of Europe (RCE), including Israel’s Chief Rabbi Yona Metzger, during a meeting in Podgorica.

“I will do everything I can to encourage this issue, whether through legislation or amending existing regulations,” Lukšić said during the meeting to Rabbi Metzger, who was accompanied by representatives of the local Jewish community.

Currently, Montenegro has three officially recognized religions: Roman Catholicism, Orthodox Christianity and Islam.

Rabbi Metzger and the RCE delegation were visiting Montenegro at the initiative of the Chief Rabbi of Albania Yoel Kaplan, who encouraged the RCE to help establish the Jewish community in Montenegro. The RCE is an organization dedicated to the needs of the Jews in Europe.

Prime Minister Lukšić’s declarations were shared by President of Montenegro Filip Vujanović and Speaker of the Montenegro Parliament Ranko Krivokapić, who also met with the delegation.

All the officials expressed hope that the upgrade in the status of Judaism would encourage interest and investment from Jews around the world in Montenegro.

Yasha Alfandri, President of the Jewish community, welcomed the declarations by the Montenegro officials.

“This is truly an important and exciting step taken by the leaders of Montenegro and will certainly provide a boost for the development of our community and raises Jewish pride in our wonderful country,” Alfandri said.

“Creating a Jewish communal structure in Montenegro is a great challenge but a vital one,” said Rabbi Aryeh Goldberg, deputy director of the RCE, who is travelled with the delegation.

“There is a thirst for being part of a wider Jewish community, not just in their own country, but being connected to the European Jewish community and the RCE is always willing to assist these communities regardless of size.”

The meetings were coordinated by Rabbi Levi Matusof, director of the European Jewish Public Affairs in Brussels, who maintains close relations with European governments.