Taking a comparative look at three notable historical anniversaries celebrated in 2023 – the 105th anniversary of the Republic of Estonia, the 75th anniversary of the State of Israel and the 35th anniversary of the rebirth of Jewish life in Estonia to show their linkages and mutual impact. Whilst drawing comparisons, to foster their human dimension which permits us to demonstrate how they impact Estonian Jewry, shape their views of and attitudes towards the country in which they live.
Mutual relationships between Jews and Estonians in the period of cultural autonomy, during and after the Holocaust, during re-establishment of independence and nowadays.
The birth of the Republic of Estonia one hundred five years ago enabled the Jewish people to freely develop their community life and engage in self-realization as an ethnic minority. It further helped advance Zionism in Estonia and start the process of repatriation to the Land of Israel, making it possible for Estonian Jews to contribute toward building the restored State of Israel.
Estonians were for centuries governed by foreign rulers, but could ultimately gain independence. One hundred five years ago the Jewish people were deprived of such an opportunity. However, the mere fact that a small nation could declare itself independent proved that struggles for one’s land can bear fruit.
The emergence of the State of Israel provided a guarantee for the continued existence of Jews throughout the world after the tragedy of the Holocaust. The beginning of the national revival in Estonia in the late 1980s gave Jews hope of bringing revival to their community life. The first step was the establishment of the Jewish Cultural Society, the first of its kind in the Soviet Union and the publication of the first legal independent Jewish newspaper Hašahhar.
The establishment of diplomatic relations between the Republic of Estonia and Israel made the presence of the Jewish State in Estonia more visible and tangible. At the same time, Estonia’s pragmatic position in the Middle East conflict received recognition by Israel.
Government officials of the Republic of Estonia consider the Jewish community a partner and contributor to developing mutual relations with Israel. The Republic of Estonia is also interested in providing Jewish people a safe and secure environment as this contributes towards the positive image of the country.