Monday, December 26, 2005


Last week, 18 distinguished members of Zagreb Jewish community were expelled by Mr. Kraus and his cronies, because they dared to confront the criminal activities and asked Croatian authorities to conduct investigation into illegal practices by Mr. Kraus and his corrupt leadership.
Just a couple of days later, a following text appeared on the official web site of the Jewish community of Zagreb:


Following the article in "Večernji list" (a major Croatian daily newspaper L.P.) in which Ivo Goldstein and Kotel Dadon requested deleting of Zagreb jewish community from the registry of religous communities, and the prompt and decisive answer by the Board of the Community - expelling the aforementioned little group from the membership in the Community, we received a great number of phone calls and e-mails (over 300 calls till 15:30 on 12/22/05) containing full support of the members and nonmembers, wishing that we use take the same stand towards all persons that cause imense dammage to the community.
Some comments went as far as comparing the skimming of this little gang of people led by Ivo Goldstein and Kotel Dadon with the USTASHA** policies in the II world war, the claim that we can not, after all, accept.

***The Ustaše (often spelled Ustashe in English; singular Ustaša or Ustasha) was a Croatian far-right organisation put in charge of the Independent State of Croatia by the Axis Powers in 1941. They pursued nazi/fascist policies and were subsequently expelled by the communist Yugoslav partisans and the Red Army in 1945.
The Ustaše tried to exterminate Serbs, Jews, Gypsies, and basically all others that opposed them, including some Communist Croats. Once they came to power during World War II, they founded several concentration camps, the most notorious of which was the Jasenovac complex.
Exact numbers of victims are not known, only estimates exist, however it is certain that hundreds of thousands of innocent people were rounded up and killed in concentration camps and outside of them. The number of murdered Jews is fairly reliable: around 32,000 Jews were killed during WWII on NDH territory.

So, Kraus, who isn't Jewish, surrounded by people that for the most part aren't Jewish, expels Jews from the community, because they dared to question his criminal activity and then publicly compares them to NAZIS.
The text does contain the words "we cannot accept the claim that they are NAZIS", as if everyone is stupid but them and will fall for this cheap, balkan-minded way of insulting someone.

The numerous e-mails are being sent to the various persons and media in Croatia and we ask for your support as well.
If these words caught your attention, and you believe, like we do, that Jews shouldn't be called NAZIS, voice your opposition and write e-mail to ones responsible for this travesty.

Zagreb Jewish Community e-mail is:
the secretary of the community(also not Jewish):
the office of the President of Croatia:
Office for national minorities in Croatia:
Croatian goverment's human rights department:
Croatian National Radio:
Vjesnik, Croatian daily newspaper:
Jutarnji list, Croatian daily newspaper:
Vecernji List, Croatian daily newspaper:
Iskon, the largest Croatian internet portal:

As this is the time of Chanukka, we find the simbolism encouraging, because the Jews even when a minority, always prevailed at the end, as long as they kept together and followed the Jewish laws and traditions.

continue here...

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Friday, October 14, 2005


We received the following e-mail, today, and we woul'd like to share it with the world. Wonderfull news, and a joyous occasion for all of us, we wish Rabbi Kotel and his wife Agi all the best, and Mazal Tov!

Free Image Hosting at
Baby Simcha and mommy Agi
Dear Friends,

With profound gratitude to the Almighty, Agi and I are proud to announce the birth of our forth child, a gorgeous baby GIRL!

She was born on Tuesday the 8th of the Jewish month of Tishre 5766 (11th of October 2005), at exactly 2:42pm. She weighed 3.750 Kg, with 52 cm.

She was born smiling …

May this child be a source of Naches and proud to the entire Jewish people, a light unto the nation.

May we continue to share in each other joyous occasions.

Mazal Tov! Mazel Tov!

Agi, Kotel, Emanuel-Israel, Aviad-David and Jonathan-Moshe Da-Don

continue here...

Tuesday, October 04, 2005


We celebrated Rosh Hashanah in makeshift Sinagogue in Zagreb, and it was a great sucess! Over 200 people attended and we had a great time. Rabbi Kotel lead a very nice service, and it felt like home.

Free Image Hosting at
Seated left is Rabbi's pregnant wife, Agi, who is about to give birth just about every day, now.

A lot of distinguished guests arrived, amog them the Ambassador of State of Israel in Croatia, who also read a letter from Israeli Prime Minister Sharon.
Next to him was seated the Mufti of Croatia, Mr. Omerbašić, and it was a very emotional to all of us, to have him attend Jewish prayer, considering the present situation in the world.

Free Image Hosting at
Mufti of Croatia, Mr. Sevko ef. Omerbasic, seated on the left. How many of us had the privilege of welcoming a Mufti into a sinagogue?

Also, the representative of the Croatian Bishop conference arrived, as well as distinguished members of Serbian Orthodox Church and Evangelical Church of Croatia, as you can see on the photo below.

Free Image Hosting at
From left: a Serbian Preast, a catholic Bishop, Rabbi Da-Don, Evangelical Bishop, Israeli Ambassador, Mr. Montiljo from Zagreb.
Please, forgive me for forgetting their names...

Even a member of Croatian Parliament, and the Croatian President's daughter and son arrived.

The beginning of the festivities was recorded by Croatian natonal TV cameras, and all major media outlets sent journalist to cover the evening.

Surly such display of support will not go by unnoticed, especially given the fact, that the service in Jewish Community, from where we were forced to leave, was lead by one Michael Dushinsky, self proclaimed Rabbi, who fled Israel in 1997. after he was shown on "UVDA" TV investigation show, when he was filmed receiving 15.000 US$ for performing fake conversion to a young couple. today he is residing in Prague, Chech Republic.
It is just another proof, to all those who still need a proof, that the present lidership of Zagreb Jewish Community has only one thing in mind - dead Jews property.

Hopefully, the New Year will all bring salvation and justice, as we all wished for in our prayers.

The rest of the evening, after the service, was, as usual spent with a dinner, and the female part of Bet Israel is to be applauded, because they managed to have everything organised in a short time and without any budget.
We really felt like a community, a Jewish community, after quite some time, and we proved to ourselves that we can do it.

Shana Tova to all of you reading this post, and once again, thank you for your support.

continue here...

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Three months ago, a newly elected council oh the Zagreb Jewish Community has decided not to extend Rabbi's Kotel Da-Don's contract.

Zagreb Jewish Community is, like many others in the Eastern Europe, based on a national, rather then on a religious background, which means that a lot of the members are not Jews, according to Halacha, and in our case it means that over half of the 1500 members are not Jews. That includes the President of the Jewish community, Mr. Kraus, as well as most of the 25 members of the Council that runs the community and has decided not to renew Rabbi's contract.
Furthermore, many of them, are former members of the communist party, that run former Yugoslavia, and who were for 60 years thought that ALL religion is dangerous and backward, including Judaism. They have NEVER been to the synagogue, nor have they ever attended any of the services or holidays.

When the council first decided to kick the Rabbi out, ALL THE RELIGIOUS JEWISH MEMBERS OF THE COMMUNITY supported his stay and appealed to the Council to rethink their decision. They refused, and told us that it is their democratic right to vote in favor or against appointment of the Rabbi, and that is being done according to he statute.
So, now we face an completely absurd situation, where non-Jewish, anti-religious majority in the Council, decide will be the Rabbi, ignoring the wish of the congregation.
Naturally, when they refused, giving no arguments at all, beside the slogan of “he divided the community”, a lot of accusations were thrown in all directions, and eventually information of financial mismanagement in the community, surfaced.

Little did we know, the size of Pandora's box, that opened.
Past follows present. One, maybe forever missed opportunity. In the nineties Mr. Kraus was told in Zagreb, that croatian Jewish Community has a chance, with some friends from Muslim community, to save life of Ron Arad. His answer was : “No, it's none of our bussines, we have nothing to do with it.“
Who knows if Ron Arad is still alive. Maybe he had a chance to be freed from captivity, but we will never know that, because Mr. Kraus forgot the saying : “If you save one life, you saved the world.“
It turned out, that back in the nineties, when Croatia was going through transition period from communism to capitalism, a lot of people close to power, used their connections in order to gain significant amount of wealth and influence.
Now, we found out, that some of the members from our community, close to the president Kraus, were involved.

So, after three months and four meetings, including the General Assembly, where 76% of the community members, voted IN FAVOUR of Rabbi, the decision that the president refused to acknowledge, the Jews of the Zagreb Jewish Community are left with no choice, but to split and establish a new one. Nothing unusual in the Jewish world, one would think.

Don't jump just yet.

We are being publicly threatened by some of the presidents of the Council of Croatian Jewish communities, that we are not going to be allowed to do that, and that according to an agreement with the Croatian Government the only body that can permit establishment of a Jewish Community, is the Council of Croatian Jewish Communities, the same body that last week voted 7-2 in favor of the Rabbi, and two days ago, against him. One wonders, why it was necessary to vote twice in one week, on the same matter, and what made them change their decision...

Needles to say, that most of the 10 heads of the Croatian Jewish communities, are not Jews, including their spokeswoman, Sabrina Horovic, from the Jewish Community of Dubrovnik.

Furthermore, according to Croatian Law, for establishment of a new religious community, there has to be at least 500 members. We are involved in a legal battle, trying to prove that this is not a new religion (imagine that!), and that it is important to recognize the fact that over 80% of Croatian Jewry perished in the Holocaust, and those that survived spent last 60 years without a Rabbi.
Kotel Da-Don only arrived to Croatia in 1998.

The truth is, it is not going to stop us, and the new Jewish, religious and traditional Community will be established, regardless of statutes and agreements being written and signed by non-Jews, former communists and anti-Zionists that run Jewish communities in Croatia.
As of today, great number of world Jewish organizations have promised their help. Of course, all the contacts are “off the record” as long as this matter is legally considered,as internal matter of the Zagreb Jewish Community. Once there is a new, independent one, the relationships will be official, and we will be recognized as legitimate Jewish organization, according to the civil and Jewish law.

As of now, the details will be kept private, in attempt to avoid any possible impediments and obstacles that could and, according to public statements, will be used, in order to prevent us from establishing new Community, running our Jewish lives, according to Halacha and the will of religious and non-religious, Jews in Zagreb.
We would like to thank to all of you, that helped and offered to help, and who support us in this battle,and forgive us if we forgot to answer your e-mails

continue here...

Tuesday, June 28, 2005


Yesterdays ''Jutarnji List'', major Croatian daily, has published a front page article on the events in the Jewish Community, quoting amongst others, the Mufti of Croatia, mr. Sevko ef. Omerbasic, who expressed his support for the Rabbi and his work, saying ''Without Kotel Da-Don i wouldn't know anything about judaism.'' The bombastic headline says: ''JEWS ARE EXPELLING RABBI DA-DON FROM ZAGREB''.
This evening at 19.00 hours there is going to be a General Assembly meeting, first time in 12 years. We hope that the issue will be solved and the compromise found.
We would like to express our grattitude to all of you who supported us and sent us e-mails.

Free Image Hosting at Free Image Hosting at

continue here...

Friday, June 17, 2005

The best of, so far

In order to save your time reading all the comments, i have taken out some of the comments, i believe reflect the state of mind of those selfproclaimed democrats that have ousted our rabbi.
what a pile of shit...
the Jewish community of Zagreb (ashkenazi) was a reformed and much assimilated to begin with
The sephardic orthodox rabbin do not return the tradition to Zagreb, he enforces views on Judaism foreign to Croatian Jews.
Jewish community has a student in Israel who is comming back to Zagreb to be our new Rabbi, that is why he went there in the first place!!!
He went to study in an orthodox jeshiva. but his views on judaism would be different, then i guess?(L.P.)
And, if you don't remeber it was the same council that brought him to Zagreb, more or less...
if not exactly from somalia, then from some other place where the centraleurpean ways of life are strange
Every single member of the community is native Croatian, except the rabbi who is sephardic Israeli.(L.P.)
he can promote judaism wherever he wants, but the ways he do it are not felt as appropriate over here
Not appropriate for the non-religious members of the Council, that is.(L.P.)
was there a reason for the general assembly? how many times this is done in other jewish communities worldwide?
The community statute reqires the council to convene general assembly at least once a year.(L.P.)
Or is it you now that shall diceide who is a jew and how is not according to your liking?
And other apparently do not like him. So what can you do :-D
If there would have been more "religious people" like you count them in, they would have voted otherwise...
Yes? What's exactly the problem? I vote - you vote - the one who gets more votes decides for all...
But there is no obligation that you participate in this game if you don't like it, of course ...
This is the so called democracy being enforced in the community...(L.P.)
anti-Israeli and anti-jewish is quite different thing.
This is my personal favourite. Where have we heard that one, already? (L.P.)
you're fsking luser who doesn't get layed enough. hey! think about it! do you think twas enough with dope? why don't you stop shoting and once for a while think about real life?
the only thing you know is that 'chief' (whoever gave Him the title) rabbi of croatia was being thrown out. well, FFS, WTF are you. c'mon. i dare you. introduce thyself! if you got the bollox!
More democracy...(L.P.)

continue here...

Thursday, June 16, 2005

A letter from Conference of European Rabbis

We are very concerned at the news that Chief Rabbi Kotel Dadon has been summarily dismissed by your community. Rabbi Dadon, who is a member of the Conference of European Rabbis, has been instrumental in raising both the profile, as well as the standard of Jewish life in Zagreb and Croatia quite spectacularly over the past seven years. It is incomprehensible that your community has chosen to dismiss him without any valid or solid reason to do so.

This is both unacceptable in civil as well as in Jewish law. The Zagreb Jewish community must understand that it forms part of the family of European Jewish communities, and must appreciate that in Europe, one works together as a team, of which Rabbi Dadon has been a part of.

The Conference of European Rabbis cannot accept the manner in which Rabbi Dadon has been asked to leave, and we ask you to please ensure that this notice of dismissal is withdrawn in order to avoid embarrassment and pain to Rabbi Dadon and to your community.

We hear so very often of complaints that not enough people are taking up the role of Rabbi in emerging communities. Your action further discourages potential candidates from taking up such a career. We feel certain that no candidate would wish to come forward to fill a position when the previous incumbent has been treated in such a manner. The scenarios you mention of other countries are indeed very sad, and illustrate quite clearly how an action such as your own can cause tremendous harm to the future of your community. The CER will be happy to assist with any issues that you might have that need addressing, but we ask you again to please treat your Rabbi with the respect and honour he deserves for the wonderful work he has been doing.

Yours sincerely

Cllr A M Dunner
Executive Director
Conference of European Rabbis
87 Hodford Road
London NW11 8NH

continue here...

A Letter to My Brother!

A letter of support to Rabbi Kotel Da-Don from Rabbi Dovid Goldwasser of Brooklyn

When kindling the Menorah in the Mishkan, there were three steps that elevated the Kohen to be high enough to reach the wicks for lighting. Aharon HaKohen was very tall and he did not need the additional height that the steps provided. Yet, we learn that he did indeed use these three steps. The question is, why he used the steps if he didn’t need to.

The three steps allude to Torah, Avodah and Gemilus Chasadim -- Torah, the service of Hashem and benevolent acts of kindness. Aharon, being the Kohen Gadol, a leader of his people, wanted to demonstrate that true leadership is not merely a political appointment, but rather he is to be a guide, a mentor to the people and a leader who will constantly be involved in these three areas of Torah, Avodah and Gemilus Chasadim.

I write this article and dedicate it to one of my colleagues, a very dear friend, who serves as Chief Rabbi of Croatia, the Honorable Rabbi Kotel Dadon, shlita. Rabbi Dadon is the first Chief Rabbi of Croatia since the Second World War when Rabbi Shalom Freiberger was killed al Kiddush Hashem.

During the war, Rabbi Freiberger was deported together with the members of his community when the Nazis invaded. Their long train ride ended at Auschwitz. Upon leaving the train the Rabbi and his community were herded through the gates of the camp. Rabbi Freiberger saw his people being manhandled and treated inhumanely. He could not be silent and walked to the Nazi officers and pleaded with them to please treat these people like human beings. Everyone stood and watched breathlessly as the commanding Nazi officer took out his gun and shot the sainted Rabbi Freiberger in cold blood, point-blank. The thousands of eye witnesses and the Rabbi’s community, will never forget the example that Rabbi Freiberger showed to them in life and in death, may Hashem avenge his blood.

For the decades after the war, the remnants of the Croatian community went without a chief rabbi, recovering from the heavy losses that they sustained during the Second World War, as well as the more recent civil war that so affected the entire region. It was as if Hashem performed an open miracle when the community received word that there was an outstanding, young rabbi, an accomplished lawyer and community askan, one of the leading alumni of his yeshiva, who had agreed to listen to and observe the Jewish people of Croatia. Upon his first trip to the capital city of Zagreb, Rabbi Kotel Dadon immediately won the hearts of the people. He impressed everyone as an accomplished Talmud chochom and scholar. He is a sincere and genuine humanitarian, a sensitive and giving and a person to whom all people could relate: the young and the old, the traditional and the non-traditional.

The community made an offer to Rabbi Dadon immediately, beseeching him to become the chief Rabbi of Croatia, and move together with his distinguished Rebbetzin and little children to Zagreb. There were many obstacles; however, as it had been decades since Croatia had a rabbi. Where would he live? What resources would he have locally? How could he begin to educate a generation that had almost slipped by unnoticed to the rest of the world? Where would his children be able to attend school? With whom would they play? Would it be possible for a Rabbi to really live in Croatia?

The community pulled together and exerted super-human efforts to make sure that the Rabbi, if he should decide to accept their offer, would be made comfortable in every area of his life. It seems as though the prayers of the Holy martyrs were finally answered and Jewish Community of Croatia would not remain an orphaned people. Rabbi Dadon graciously accepted the mantle of leadership of Chief Rabbi of Croatia. The entire community was euphoric. Many couldn’t believe that they would finally have a rabbi, someone to confide in, someone to look to in times of need and times of joy, someone who could guide them.

At his installation as Chief Rabbi, there were many great rabbis and dignitaries from around the world. I will never forget the first time that my partner Eliezer Allman and I met Rabbi Dadon. It was the fulfillment of a dream that we have had ever since we became involved in communities of the former Yugoslavia years ago. Our attachment to the Balkans is a very deep one and we feel a special kinship with all of the communities in the region. The relationship that has developed with the Rabbi can be compared to one of the closest of brothers.

Rabbi Dadon has literally turned the community around, and he and his family have given new life to the community. For the first time one can go in the streets of Croatia and hear children singing Modeh Ani from the classrooms of their new Yeshiva Day School. Record crowds are in attendance for Yom Tov programs. Plans are underway to reconstruct the main synagogue that was destroyed by the Nazis. The Rabbi has represented the Jewish community on every level of society. He has brought Croatia to the forefront, and has succeeded in touching the lives of thousands of people.

The Rabbi organized the dedication of a sefer Torah and personally saw to it that over 250 organizations, businesses and dwellings affixed, for the first time, Mezuzas on their doors. He has organized a host of Shabbatonim, adult education programs and has authored a masterful book on Judaism, specifically for the benefit of his community. He has brought a high standard of kashrus and shechita to the area. He has reached out to all segments of the community, extending to them his guidance, counsel and help wherever needed and necessary. He has conducted Jewish weddings and Bris Milas, for the first time since the Holocaust.

It would be impossible to list the numerous accomplishments thus far of Rabbi Kotel Dadon. In short, he has raised the banner of Torah which now flies proudly over the Balkans.

To my shock, I have just been informed that literally overnight, a small group of purported atheists have deviously gained power on the Community’s board, and have conspired to remove Rabbi Kotel Dadon from Croatia. These people are of questionable origin and have stealthily crept in to try and take over the Jewish community. The threat is most serious. It has become apparent that the war that they wish to wage is not only against Rabbi Kotel Dadon, it is against the very Torah itself. They want to remove all traces of religion from the Jewish community. It is hard to imagine that during the holy time of our preparations for Kabbalas HaTorah, such an insult to the honor of Torah can take place.

I join rabbinic leaders throughout the world in crying out against this outrage. I join with thousands of people the world over in saying to Rabbi Kotel Dadon: “We support you! We are with you and we will never allow you to be any place other than on three steps that you stand on as the Chief Rabbi of Croatia: Torah, Avodah and Gemilus Chasadim”.

I call out with the voice of my pen to all of the distinguished readers of the Jewish Press the world over -- to all who are in the Torah camp -- to please e-mail your feelings of encouragement and support to Rabbi Kotel Dadon, the Chief Rabbi of Croatia, at:
I thank each and every one of you for your time and effort in this matter. May we hear good news and celebrate many simchas in Klal Yisroel.

continue here...

Friday, June 10, 2005

Judenrat in Zagreb

On Tuesday , May 31, 2005 in the Zagreb Jewish Community Center the Council elected at the May 15 elections, held their constituting session. What under normal circumstances should have been a solemn manifestation, had started as a farce and ultimately ended as a rarely experienced disgrace, since the Council had decided not to renew the contract for Kotel Da-Don, chief rabbi of Croatia, which expiries in September of this year. The decision was passed with 13 - 11 votes, despite the objection of all religiously observant members of the community who regularly attend the service at the synagogue and who were present at the session and have gather signatures in support of the Rabbi. The support was also manifested by the Jewish Community members from Osijek, Split, Rijeka, and Dubrovnik.

Council of the Jewish Community in Zagreb is under direct influence of the community's president, Ognjen Kraus and his partners, ie. Sanja Tabakovic, Jasa Bienenfeld and a few other “professional Jews”, who, although proclaimed atheists, who never attend, nor had ever attended the synagogue service, had a cheek to entirely ignore the appeals and wishes of the observant Jews, members of the community, and enforce yet another decision whose sole purpose is to make any opposition in the community unfeasible. Thus they are able to carry out the “monopolization” of the Zagreb Community.

What is at stake is clearly seen in the light of the fact that, starting 2001 the Government of the Republic of Croatia authorized the restitution of several buildings and construction sites in the Zagreb area, which were the ownership of the Jewish Community before World War II, and whose current market value is measured in millions of euros.

It is important to stress that with this election Mr. Ognjen Kraus entered into his fourth consecutive mandate as the president of the Community. This in itself is an alarming piece of information in light of the fact that in all democratic systems the number of possible mandates is limited. Furthermore, it is known that the Community Charter for over 50 years had a provision allowing a candidate only two possible presidential mandates. The provision was altered during the Ognjen Kraus’ 12 year “government”. Because of the above stated actions the very claim of the democratic procedures of the Community ought to be formally questioned.

Since the governing elite in the Community has this and many other assets of the Jewish Community at their disposal and under their jurisdiction and are legally protected as legal representatives of the community, which, it must be mentioned, is registered as a religious community, through the years they have acquired wealth and use their position for personal gain. Determination to defend their position and “privileges” with all means is not surprising if viewed in the light that the budget of the Community can be measured in millions of kuna (5.60 kuna = 1US$). Through his work and ethics Rabbi Da-Don represented an obstacle to the clique for the execution of their plans, and when considering the fact that they also have plans for construction of the Jewish Cultural Center in the Praska Street in down-town Zagreb, which will pour additional millions into the Community’s budget, the mentioned group had no issue with ignoring the will of the majority of observant members and through “democratic” voting removed the rabbi from his office.

It is important to note that the support for the Rabbi is expressed not only by the religiously observant members of the Community, but also by the members who are not believers, but who see the Jewish religion as an indivisible part of Jewish identity and tradition and that through such arbitrary and irresponsible action the very image and existence of the Jewish Community in Croatia is threatened. The survival of our quantitatively small community is jeopardized not only through natural processes such as assimilation, or in other words acculturation, but also though a willfulness and cynicism of the ruling oligarchy, which are guided by their narrow personal interests, exclusively of materialistic nature. Here occurs an absurd situation in which the same people, who in their communications with other members of the Community disparagingly speak of their own religion and tradition, with outmost cynicism, abuse the benevolence and sensitivity of the Croatian public and its political structures to the needs of religious and ethnic minorities, in order to promote themselves and their own careers. At every critique in the community they request “multi-cultural sensitivity”, “tolerance” and “unity”, while concurrently every decision they make is presented it to the public as an opinion of the entire Jewish ethnic and religious minority in Croatia. One of the effects of this is a growing negative image of the community in the public that sees the whole Jewish community through the actions of a few morally corrupted members of the leadership.

Our opinion is that after 12 years the time has come to review actions and results of this Community management and accordingly change the system that has led to the loss of members, total disintegration inside the community, loss of identity, neglecting the tradition and putting the community’s identity to shame. The success of the Jewish Community cannot and must not be measured by the size of its budget or media exposure and personal career promotion of its leadership, but rather by tradition and intellectual, moral and spiritual strength of its membership.

If you are reading this words, please understand - this is a cry for help.

Let your rabbi know what is being done to our rabbi, and to our faith in the name of greed and intolerrance.

We need your support.

Shalom from Zagreb.

continue here...