Greeting Spring in Zenica

Zenica Synagogue

(Click here to read the post in lokal jezik)

Each year, Zenica celebrates the first day of spring with the Cimburijada, “The Festival of Scrambled Eggs.” The people of Zenica gather on the banks of the Bosna River to eat scrambled eggs together, and a few brave souls even jump into the river for an icy swim. Unfortunately, I didn’t have a chance to partake of this culinary tradition, but I was honored to speak at a ceremony on March 21 that marked another sort of new beginning. The Zenica Synagogue building is 108 years old. It is one of the few synagogues in Bosnia and Herzegovina that survived both World War II and the Communist era and is now used by the city as a gallery of the Museum of Zenica. Zenica’s government has just finished a three-year renovation of the synagogue structure and has unveiled a new administrative space that will be used by Zenica’s Jewish Community free of charge.

This beautiful building allows citizens of all faiths to gather for cultural and artistic events. The reopening of this space, which serves as yet another reminder of Bosnia and Herzegovina’s long tradition of multi-cultural coexistence, was a great way to put winter behind us.

In addition to my tour of the synagogue building, I met with Mayor Husein Smajlovic and stopped by the American Corner which was the first established in Bosnia and Herzegovina. This week, American Corner Zenica celebrated seven activity-filled years, thanks in large part to the energy of A.C. Director Sead Pasic. Sead is a master of social media, as evidenced by the fact that my visit made it to YouTube immediately.