‘Jews will come back to S. Ossetia’
The Jewish quarter in South Ossetia’s capital Tskhinval is the oldest of all the national communities there, but it was ruined as long ago as 1991 due to Georgian aggression, said Zinovy Kogan, head of Congress of Jewish Religious Organisations and Unions
Osetinfo.ru: Is the Jewish Congress planning to help the victims of the conflict in South Ossetia?
Zinovy Kogan: The Russian Jewish Congress is already helping them in different ways. We have collected a number of documents and sent them to the UN for an investigation into Saakashvili’s war crimes. Witness data has been collected, it’s a big pile of documents.
Osetinfo.ru: Will the Jewish quarter be rebuilt?
Zinovy Kogan: The Jewish quarter was destroyed back in 1991, and after that almost all Jews who lived in Tskhinval left the city. Of course, it will be reconstructed, but will it go on being a ‘Jewish quarter’? For example, the synagogue will be reconstructed as a memorial to Jews who used to live on this land. Maybe it will be a synagogue, maybe it will be a museum.
Tskhinval is one of the world’s oldest cities. It’s more than 2000 years old. And the Jewish quarter is the oldest there. A legend says the synagogue is 2,600 years old. This quarter was very rich, there were markets there. You could buy whatever you wanted there whenever you wanted. The houses were so solid they saved hundreds of people who were hiding in the basements. It’s the second time the Jewish quarter has been directly fired on. This time it was exactly the same as in 1991. It’s astonishing how strong Georgian hatred is.
Osetinfo.ru: Is it possible that Jews will come back to Tskhinval?
Zinovy Kogan: I think, yes. I went to Grozny in Chechnya not long ago, and I want to say that as soon as peace was established in that republic, Jews started moving there: engineers, programmers, managers. They came there – those were Chechen Jews. By the way, Chechnya’s President Ramzan Kadyrov is very happy with this and he is giving the best positions to them. It is said that if Jews are coming back it means peace is coming back. That is right, and I think Ossetian Jews will surely come back to the country and revive the synagogue and their quarter. Not only Jews, but also Armenians, Russians and many others will live there.