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    » 03/24/2012, 00.00

    SOUTH KOREA

    First Korean synagogue opens its doors

    Joseph Yun Li-sun

    After about 60 years, the Jewish community residing in the country has opened its first place of worship. Rabbi: "Never before have we found respect for our religion like here".

    Seoul (AsiaNews) - After nearly 60 years, the Jewish community of South Korea has opened its first synagogue. On 4 March, faithful from across the country, rabbis from neighboring nations and the Israeli ambassador in Seoul witnessed the laying of the Torah that marks the official opening of the place of worship. The community has praised the Korean people and society, "one of the most tolerant in all the world".

    In South Korea, the Jews fled in the wake of the Korean War. In 1950, sent by the United States, about 200 soldiers of the Jewish religion settled in the country and remained there even after the end of hostilities, signed in 1953. Today there are about 500 Jewish residents, and half of them are Korean born: they are the sons and grandsons of those men who married local women.

    The synagogue was opened in Seoul. In the past 6 decades, the community gathered in a "Chabad House": it takes its name from an Israeli organization, perhaps the biggest in the Middle Eastern country, which helps and supports the religious communities in the world. The "Chabad Houses" have not only the function of temporary synagogues, but they are the homes of rabbis.

    Led by Rabbi Osher Litzman, the laying of the Torah launched festivities. According to the Jewish religion, in fact, a synagogue can not open its doors if its holy book was not written by hand by a scribe in Israel: the Korean one arrived in early February, and the last part of the roll was left blank. The Korean Jews during the ceremony, wrote the last letters (in yiddish) that complete the Book.

    According to the community, South Korea "is one of the best countries in the world with regard to tolerance and religious freedom." The country, says Rabbi Litzman, "is the opposite of anti-Semitism. We are blessed to be here: I have traveled all over the world but here I found respect and nothing else."

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    See also

    27/06/2012 SOUTH KOREA
    Seoul, the new archbishop is installed: "Everyone help me to carry out my mission"
    With a solemn Mass Msgr. Andrew Yeom Soo-jung became the 14th Metropolitan of the Korean capital. Friday he will receive the pallium from Benedict XVI. The new shepherd asked the faithful "for help to carry on the great challenges that the Church has before her: we will always fight for human life and for the reunification of Korea." The prelate also wants to transform into a site of pilgrimage the place where the first Korean martyrs were killed, including some of his direct ancestors.

    30/03/2009 TAJIKISTAN
    New synagogue of Dushanbe to open soon
    It will stand in a building given to the Jewish community by a rich banker. The old synagogue was demolished to build the new presidential palace. There is great fear in the country for religious freedom, especially for non-Islamic faiths, after the restrictive law promulgated last week.

    27/07/2007 AFGHANISTAN - SOUTH KOREA
    Anxious hours after the passing of the deadline for the 22 Korean hostages
    The Kabul government seems convinced that a peaceful solution to the crises is possible. But in Seoul, after the murder of the pastor who led the volunteers, worry reigns. The dramatic phone call of one of the women held hostage.

    15/10/2012 SOUTH KOREA
    A new sanctuary for the Korean martyrs, "founders of the country"
    On October 20, in the presence of civil and religious authorities, the Bishop of Daejeon Msgr. Lazzaro You Heung-sik will inaugurate a new place of worship, the largest in the country, dedicated to the memory of the victims of the Byeongin persecution. "They are a source of daily inspiration for all of us."

    06/05/2005 SOUTH KOREA
    Church plans a North-South 'Reconciliation Centre'
    The centre will include a church, a shrine and a seminary. It is being constructed to "promote relations with North Korea".



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