A new chapter in the history of Albania
Speech of Rabbi Yoel Kaplan, Chief Rabbi of Albania at the “Religion as an Instrument of Peace” conference, organised by the President of the Republic of Albania Ilir Meta, in cooperation with US State Department in Tirana.
By Rabbi Yoel Kaplan
Esteemed President of Albania, Good-hearted Religious Leaders of Albania, Honored Presidents and Ambassadors, Distinguished Delegates, Ladies and Gentlemen
In this gathering today we are writing a chapter in the history of Albania which will have far-reaching effects on the world. In these days of conflict and turmoil, we come together to proclaim the importance of peace and mutual respect.
This amazing event that the esteemed President honors, is not just a gathering of peace as we see in different places and times. This is a unique historical occasion.
Albania, as the prominent country in the Balkans, stresses the equality of all religions and all communities with the very clear words that after all we are one and equal, and we are driven by the same human higher purpose and ideals. These principles are expressed in BESA.
Albania has today opened their hands up to GOD, who leads the world that He created with grace and mercy, and asks His blessing for good and peaceful life for all communities and believers.
We are all Believers. We all believe in the basic God-given right of all beings to live in peace, harmony and happiness. We find this principle in Albania and the surrounding Balkan countries, and these principles have brought us together today. We make a proclamation to the world that Albania and the Balkans adhere to these central principles.
It is most appropriate that this meeting is being held specifically in Albania, the country of BESA.
Albania is an open and principled country that accepts all religions and opinions and protects the rights of all people to live and work peaceably, without restriction and without fear.
A Jew in Albania feels accepted like a Muslim, a Muslim feels comfortable like a Christian whether he is Catholic or Orthodox, despite the diversities of each religion. Our basic principles are the same: we are all children of the One God whose takes joy in seeing his various children work together in peace for the welfare of one another and or the fbetterment of His handiwork. BESA replicates God’s traits of benevolence and kindness towards all His creatures.
Dear President, thank you for making this wonderful and historical event, and for having me as a Jewish Rabbi taking part. Especially in this time of worldwide upheaval and extremism, you have made a resounding proclamation.
Precisely at a time when in the name of religion families worldwide must uproot children from their homes and their warm beds, and children are being taught to fight rather than to build; here in Albania, the country of BESA and peace, we are gathered to proclaim unity of all mankind. In this call of peace, as a Jew I am honored to stand here with the Albanian people who saved thousands of Jews in the terrible Holocaust. While most of the world stood by and did nothing or even helped the destruction, Albanians fought against the Nazis that sowed hatred, brutality and bloodshed, and Albanians endangered their very lives and the lives of their children to uphold the principle of BESA that rises above hatred. For this Albania will be forever blessed by God and by man.
I stand here as the Albanian Chief Rabbi with gratitude, and I congratulate everyone who is privileged to take part in this important event. I pray for Albania. I pray for the simple villagers who continue to live their lives honestly and with trust in God and open their homes and hearts with love and BESA. I pray for the leaders, and for the success of Albania and of BESA.
BESA is the only thing that the whole world needs, and this will come out from this gathering of leaders for BESA and peace.
God bless all, God bless Albania! Shalom.
Rabbi Yoel Kaplan, Chief Rabbi of Albania
*Speech of Rabbi Yoel Kaplan, Chief Rabbi of Albania at the “Religion as an Instrument of Peace” conference, organised by the President of the Republic of Albania Ilir Meta, in cooperation with US State Department in Tirana.