Azerbaijan Jewish community cancels Purim celebrations for national day of mourning

All communal Purim celebrations canceled because holiday coincides with national day of mourning for the Khojaly Massacre.

Arutz Sheva Staff ,

Purim (illustration)
Purim (illustration)
Flash 90

Leaders of Azerbaijan's Jewish community have announced the cancellation of all communal events celebrating the Purim holiday, after learning that the holiday coincided with Azerbaijan’s national day of mourning for the Khojaly Massacre. This is the first time the dates have coincided. Azerbaijani Jews are preparing instead to celebrate the holiday at home with their families.

Rabbi Shneur Segal, Chief Rabbi of Ashkenazi community of Azerbaijan, explained the decision. “We are citizens of this multinational state, and as such, the Khojaly Massacre is also our tragedy. We mourn the loss of those peaceful Azerbaijanis who were cruelly murdered. This year, among the four commandments of Purim, we are paying special attention to the mitzvah of helping the poor in our midst as a way to give back to the community”.

The Khojaly Massacre was the most tragic episode and largest massacre of the first Nagorno-Karabakh war. Khojaly, Karabakh’s second largest city, attracted both warring parties for its important strategic location. On the night of February 25-26,1992, Armenian armed forces, joined by soldiers of the 366th CIS Regiment, began an assault on and the city of Khojaly, occupied the city, and brutally killed 613 civilians, including women, children, and the elderly.

BBC journalist Thomas De Waal worked in the combat zone and wrote about the massacre in a memoir entitled "Black Garden." In it, he quotes Serzh Sargsyan, Prime Minister and President of Armenia and a former separatist leader. “Before Khojaly, the Azerbaijanis thought that they were joking with us, they thought that the Armenians were people who could not raise their hand against the civilian population. We needed to put a stop to all that. And that’s what happened...”

Former CNN cameraman Yuri Romanov described the horrors he witnessed in his book, "I Film a War…" He writes: “From the mass of bodies two figures caught my eye. An old woman with an uncovered gray head was lying face down next to a little girl in a blue jacket. Their legs were tied with barbed wire, and the old woman's hands were tied as well. Both had been shot in the head. The little girl, about four years old, was stretching out her hands to her murdered grandmother. Shocked, I even forgot about my camera."

“We stand together in remembrance of the Khojaly massacre that happened less than 30 years ago on our soil. May the memory of those who perished be for a blessing.”, said Rabbi Segal.