The Board’s President Vivian Wineman, together with Vice President of the International Division Edwin Shuker and former Vice President Flo Kaufmann, flew to Bucharest on Tuesday to represent the Board in a ceremony where the President of Romania, Mr Traian Basescu, presented Dr Moshe Kantor, the President of the European Jewish Congress, with the National Order of the Star of Romania in the rank of Knight ; and bestowed the National Order for Merit in the rank of Grand Cross on Aurel Vainer, the Head of the Romanian Jewish community.
Vivian Wineman said: “It was moving to hear President Basescu speak of his regret for the terrible crimes committed against the Jews on Romanian soil – and with Romanian participation – and how he only learnt about the Romanian Holocaust late in life, when he visited the Holocaust Museum in Washington. He spoke of the friendship of contemporary Romania for Israel and the Jewish people.”
Afterwards there was a Reception at which the Prime Minister spoke as did previous Presidents of Romania. They all honoured the participants for their work in the promotion of Romanian-Israeli relations and the improvement of Romania’s image abroad.
Subsequently, we attended a meeting with the Prime Minister and other Parliamentarians. We were treated with great respect throughout. It was heartening to see such gestures of friendship and respect shown by the leaders of a country where Jews suffered such terrible persecutions only two generations ago.
Vivian Wineman is a Vice President of the EJC. An important part of the Board’s International Division remit is to support the needs of all Jews, including those in Europe. This includes lobbying the European Parliament, including on the matter of Holocaust era issues, such as trying to uncover unmarked graves, ensuring that Holocaust education is comprehensively taught and restitution of stolen property.