Georgia Remembers the Holocaust

Marine Solomonishvili reports on the International Holocaust Remembrance Day events held in Tbilisi, Georgia, on January 27, 2023, with the participation of the Council of Jewish Women in Georgia & Foundation LEA.  

Marine Solomonishvili

The first event was a Holocaust education seminar hosted by Ilia State University in Tbilisi, under the auspices of the Public Defender / Ombudsman of Georgia and UN Association in Georgia. Marine was the first speaker, as head of the Council of Jewish Women in Georgia and Foundation LEA, and a professor, architect and journalist. She gave a presentation about the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp and the horrific crimes committed during the Holocaust. She illustrated her talk with her drawings on this theme, and digital photos from the Yad Vashem “Auschwitz Album”. The second speaker was a psychologist, Natia Panjikidze, who spoke about the psychology of violence and the famous book “Yes to Life” written by Holocaust survivor Viktor Frankl. This was followed by a discussion.

Among the dignitaries present were Nino Doborjginidze, Rector of Ilia State University; Mrs. Hadas Cohen, Deputy Head of Mission of the Embassy of Israel to Georgia; Mrs. Tamar Sirbiladze, Office of Democracy, Rights, and Governance, USAID/Georgia; Mrs. Ketevan Shubashvili, Head of the Equality Department, Public Defender’s Office; and the event moderator: Beka Mindiashvili, Head of the Tolerance Center under auspices of the Public Defender’s Office of Georgia. The attendees included students from both Ilia State University and Tbilisi State University, representatives of the Embassy of Israel to Georgia, the UN Association of Georgia, the Public Defender / Ombudsman Office, the Tolerance Center, JDC Georgia, Tbilisi Great Synagogue, Jewish and other ethnic and religious minority leaders, and representatives of the Council of Jewish Women & LEA.     

On the same day, Marine was invited to represent the Council of Jewish Women & Foundation LEA at their candle lighting ceremony in memory of the victims of the Holocaust. The Georgian Parliament and the Embassy of Israel held a joint service hosted by the National Library of Georgia. Six officials were each invited to light two candles – one in the menorah and one memorial candle on the table. They were: Mr. Shalva Papuashvili ,Chairman of the Parliament of Georgia; H.E. Hadas Ester Meitzad, Israeli Ambassador to Georgia; Mr.Givi Mikanadze, Head of the Georgian Parliament Friendship Group with the Israeli Parliament; Israeli Knesset representative MK David Bitan; Monsignor Jose Bettencourt ,the Holy See’s Apostolic Nuncio to Georgia; Mrs. Sabine Machl, UN Resident Coordinator in Georgia; and Marine Solomonishvili.

Three Israeli Members of Knesset – David Bitan, Eli Cohen and Israel Katz – said the Kaddish prayer for the souls of all the victims of Holocaust. Copies of photographs from the Yad Vashem “Auschwitz Album” were exhibited.

The second event was attended by members of Georgian Parliament, Georgian officials, ambassadors and representatives of various international embassies, international organizations, Jewish community organizations, prominent members of Georgian society, and the country’s media.