"Shalom" is the name of the largest and most influential organisation of the Jews in Bulgaria today.
It has inherited both the one-time Consistory, and the structure known as Public Cultural and Educational Organisation of the Jews in Bulgara.
This subject needs some additional explanations.
Until Bulgaria's Liberation from Turkish power (1878) the different confessional and ethnic communities in the Bulgarian towns and villages used to live in more or less differentiated quarters. Each similar community had its own internal self-government, which performed various social, cultural, cult-related, economic and even legal functions.
During the 19th century the Jewish communities in the different locations were united in some sort of confederation called Consistory. With the establishment of the Communist regime in the country, the Consistory was reduced to just a cultural and educational organisation. Its official name reflected its status - Public Cultural and Educational Organisation of the Jews in Bulgaria (PCEOJ).
In 1990 PCEOJ was transformed into an Organisation of the Jews in Bulgaria "Shalom". The purpose of "Shalom" is to assume, as far as possible, the role of the former Consistory. However, the point is that there used to be about 50 thousand Jews in this country, but today, together with people born of mixed marriages, they are only about 6 thousand. Even in the largest cities like Sofia or Plovdiv the Jewish communities, in the traditrional sense of this term, are already impossible.
Nevertheless, "Shalom" gives priority to its communal functions. In this sense, it is not a political, youth, women's, etc. organisation, although it comprises, as member or gravitating structures, various clubs and formations - of women, youth, veterans, artists, for studying the Hebrew language, for Jewish dances, Sunday children's schools, etc. In the Jewish Cultural Centre building in Sofia, where this organisation is seated, there function an information centre, a library, a canteen, a communal kitchen for poor people, a rehabilitation centre for the aged, medical consulting rooms, a service for transporting and delivering food and for providing medical care at home.
A mutual aid fund (for loans and credits) has been established, and a home for aged people is now under construction.
A museum is maintained at the synagogue in Sofia.
A fortnightly newspaper, "Jewish News", and a year-book are published.
"Shalom" is self-supported, owing to the Jewish real estate in Bulgaria. Some Jewish foundations from the United States and Israel also fund different projects of the organisation, on a competitive basis.
In Sofia the Jewish community has been allocated the public primary school No 134, which is about to become a secondary school. Within a short period of time, it has made itself reputation as an elite school, because of its excellent facilities, expert teaching staff and well-composed syllabus. Although its is known as the Jewish school among the citizens of Sofia, this name is not quite correct, since the majority of the 300 children who attend it are ethnic Bulgarians. The reason for this "influx" are its academic results, which open the door to higher educational degrees.
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