In an unprecedented move, hundreds of European rabbis are set to convene in Azerbaijan this fall for a conference focused on Jewish affairs, marking the first such gathering in a Muslim-majority nation.

This event comes amidst the strengthening relations between Israel and Azerbaijan, which have evolved from a historical connection into a strategic partnership. The biennial convention, organized by the Conference of European Rabbis, is scheduled to take place in Baku from November 12 to 15. Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev will serve as the honorary host for the event, and around 500 rabbis from across Europe are expected to attend.

The primary Orthodox rabbinical alliance in Europe brings together over 700 religious leaders from various communities across the continent. Established in 1956, the organization focuses on safeguarding the rights of European Jews, making matters related to religious freedom and the well-being of Jewish communities central themes at the upcoming conference.

Azerbaijan’s special place in Jewish history and its unique Jewish communities have contributed to the selection of the nation as the conference’s venue. Rabbi Pinchas Goldschmidt, the president of the Conference of European Rabbis, expressed his appreciation for Azerbaijan’s warm welcome and its historical significance to the Jewish people.

“Azerbaijan is a place with a special memory for the Jewish people, and is home to one of the most unique Jewish communities in the world,” said Rabbi Goldschmidt, who had a meeting with President Aliyev earlier this year.

The choice of Azerbaijan as the conference location is notable, given its multicultural identity and the peaceful coexistence between its Muslim-majority population and its Jewish communities. With the world facing increasing instances of anti-Semitism, Azerbaijan stands out as a country where such animosity is absent, and its 25,000 to 30,000 Jewish residents live harmoniously alongside their Muslim neighbors.

The event will include a visit to the ancient Jewish town of Quba, historically inhabited by Mountain Jews. The thriving relationship between Israel and Azerbaijan, as well as the forthcoming conference, serve as testaments to the power of diplomacy, mutual understanding, and shared values in fostering strong interfaith connections and international partnerships.

Source: Jewish News Syndicate