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February 29, 2008

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PAGE 16A HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, FEBRUARY 29, 2008 at t" of 5 Chabad Rabbis Motti Seligson, left, and Saadya Notik at a Mezuzah-affixing ceremony at the Novi Sad synagogue in Serbia in September 2007. The rabbis visited the Jewish communities of the former Yugoslavia as a part of Chabad-Lubavitch's global Jewish en- richment program. By Dinah Spritzer mud-drenched pavement that declared independence piled high with garbage. Sunday. PRIZREN, Kosovo (JTA)--"The only thing that works Unemployment in Kosovo On a forlorn road dottedwith in Kosovo is the banks; we all half-builthouses, Ines Quono have to borrow money to do reflects On her struggle in something--anything," says a hind so remote to most Quono, 28. Americans it might as well Quono is among the last be Oz, Jews of Kosovo, a southern Butinsteadofayellowbrick province of Serbia about road, there is crumbling, half the size of New Jersey hovers at 50 percent and the average wage is $350 a month. "We all worry how we will get by," says Quono, a university student, wife and mother of a toddler. The future of Quono and her family is uncertain, as ASSET MANAGEMENT A T N E R S REGISTERED INVESTMENT ADVISOR 407 Wekiva Springs Road, Suite 247, Longwood, Florida 32779 1605 Hain Street, Suite II 10, Sarasota, Florida 34236 Bruce Udell, CEO Mitchell Walk, CLU, ChFC, HER RFC President Securities and Investment Advisory Services offered through NFP Securities. Inc, a BrokedDealer. Member FINRA/SIPC and a Federally Registered Investment Advisor. Investment Advisory Services also offered through Asset Management Partners. a Registered Investment Advisor. Asset Management Partners is an affiliate of NFP Securities. Inc and a subsidiary of National Financial Partners. CorD, the parent company of NFP Securities. nc. *NFP Securities Inc. and Asset Management Partners ao not provide legal or tax advice, they decide whether their destiny is in Israel or in southeastern Europe, where their roots go back to the 15th- century Spanish Inquisition, when thousands of Sephardic Jews fled to the Balkans. There are some 50 Jews left in Kosovo. Belonging to three families, or clans, they all live in the city of Prizren, a rare gem of ancient architecture amid a landscape devastated by war, poverty and Commu- nist-era concrete. The United Nations took over the administration of Kosovo in 1999 after a brutal conflictbetween KosovoAlba- nians seeking independence and Serbian troops controlled by strongman Slobodan Mi- losevic. Ethnic Albanians account for 90 percent of KosovCs population of 2.2 million. The Albanians are Muslim, but largely secular. Corruption, criminality and a lack of foreign invest- ment have marked life in Kosov0 over the last nine years, during which final- status negotiations between a now democratic Serbia and Kosovo's ethnic Albanian leaders failed. OnSunday, Feb. 17, Kosovo's prime minister declared inde- pendence with support from the United States and most of the European Union--and with fierce opposition from Serbia, whose position is backed by Russia. Distressed by a war they watched from the sidelines and facing an uncertain future, the Jews of Prizren are gloomy. When the war started, the other Jews in theJDCofficialresponsiblefor Kosovo--the 50 living in the the organization's activities capital city of Pristina--fled in Kosovo. to Serbia, where they spoke "Ninety percent of Jews in the language and felt a part Priz :en are jobless," he said. of the culture. But those in Earlier this month, the Prizren, where Jews speak JDC held a brainstorming Albanian and Turkish--there session on job opportunities is a large Turkish population with 25 Prizren Jews aged 40 there--stayed, and under. Now, with Kosovo having "I said, 'If you can think of broken away from Serbia, a shop or service, like giv, ing those like Votim Demiri, English lessons, I find so)me Quono's father, who made capital to get you starte d," a decent living under com- Djerassi told JTA. munism, find it hard to leave "They tried to explain to. me the homes they built, despite whyitcannothappen;they, are fearsofgrowingtensionswith, very pessimistic." There are their neighbors, also obstacles in connecting "There was not anti-Semi- Prizren's Jews to other Jews tism in the past, but with the in the region, Saudicharitiesherenowweare "My idea is to make them Seeing a Wahabi influence for part of something bigger, to the first time," Demirisaid, re- bringthemto events in Skopje ferring to the fundamentalist or Belgrade. But the small IslamicideologySaudiArabian children, 15 and under, they clerics have tried to export, don'tspeakSerbianandthat's with little success, in the Bal- a problem," Djerassi said. kans. "I think the newspapers "Our spiritual life, like our these days are not portraying economic life, is a disast er," Jews in such a positive light." Demiri said, pointing to his The greatest concern for Jews rotting roof. His children, it here, however, is the concern seems, are preparing for an sharedbyallKosovars: feeding eventual move to Israel. their families. In this regard, Quono's sister, Teuta they are both at an advantage Demiri, 22, recently spent a and a disadvantage, year at a kibbutz, where she They are helped by the studied Hebrew. A bank teller American Joint Jewish Dis- in Prizren, Teuta is thinking tribution Committee, which about aliyah but is not con- provides them with social fident she can find work in services, hosts celebrations Israel. Her brother is studying 0nJewishholidaysandtriesto Hebrew and also is nervlous help with employment, about his job prospects. On the negative side, Jews "I have been thinkingl for are outsiders in quasi-state eight years whether to, go controlled by ethnic Alba- or not to go to Israel," their nians who mete out the few father, Votim Demiri said. jobs there are to friends and family, said Robert Djerassi, Kosovo on page 17A Beginning this April: An online interactive course with monthly in-person discussion groups C0ntemp0ranj Jewish Law Dr. Terri Susan Fine Course Facilitator Register now online at halakhah.htm There is no fee for the course. Participation may be by Internet or in person. Or contact the Temple Israel office at (407) 647-3055 Sponsored by: Halakhah Initiative Grant from United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism 50 S. Moss Road WinterSprings, FL 32708 Contact: Terri Fine (407) 671-6257