A Jewish school opens in Azerbaijan

While other former Soviet Muslim republics are being emptied of their Jews, Azerbaijan seems to be bucking the trend, JTA reports:

(JTA) — A new Jewish school was dedicated in the capital of Azerbaijan.

The Chabad Or Avner school was dedicated Monday in Baku in the presence of Azerbaijani President Ilhem Aliyev and his wife, Mehriban Aliyeva; Israel’s Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar; and businessman Lev Leviev, president of the Federation of Jewish Communities of the Former Soviet Union and head of the Ohr Avner Foundation, as well as about 200 guests.

Leviev and other philanthropists donated the $10 million for the school, which serves about 400 students, and Jewish campus overlooking the Caspian Sea. The campus also includes a Jewish community center and sports facility.

Azerbaijan, a republic of some 8.7 million people bordering Iran, has approximately 12,000 Jews living there. Its population is mostly Turkic and Shiite Muslims.

Aliyev praised his country’s Jewish community during his speech at the dedication ceremony.

“For generations, they have shown how well they get along with other people,” the president said. “These children are proud of the fact that they are Jews, and the fact that they are citizens of Azerbaijan.

“We call on all other nations to treat minorities like we do — with respect.”

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