Nessah Synagogue in Los Angeles - one of the largest and most influential synagogues in the United States, hosted an event titled "Stories of Survival and Hope from Azerbaijan: Embracing Peaceful Coexistence and Harmony". The event featured a delegation of the Azerbaijani Community of Azerbaijan's Nagorno-Karabakh region.
Held jointly with the Consulate General of Azerbaijan in Los Angeles, the event was attended by up to 400 people, including community leaders, activists, journalists, university professors, representatives of culture and art, entrepreneurs and others.
The event was opened with the performance of national anthems of Azerbaijan, Israel and the U.S.
Speaking at the event, Nessah Synagogue Rabbi David Shofet, Synagogue President Asher Eshaghpour, famous author Isaac Yomtovian, and IAJF President Susan Azizzadeh highlighted Azerbaijan’s strong and historic friendship with the Jewish people and the State of Israel, as well as Azerbaijan’s model of interfaith harmony and peace.
Then the floor was given to the Consul General of Azerbaijan Nasimi Aghayev. Consul General Aghayev expressed his gratitude for hosting such an important gathering, which showcases Nessah’s strong commitment to peace and harmony among all religions.
Aghayev then offered a special acknowledgement to Joshua Kaufman, the Holocaust survivor, who was present at the event. He noted that after surviving Auschwitz and Dachau concentration camps, Mr. Kaufman was liberated from a “death” train by the U.S. soldiers in 1945. He also mentioned that this year at his State of the Union address, President Trump honored Mr. Kaufman in Congress. Consul General Aghayev thanked the Holocaust survivor for meeting Azerbaijani delegation of refugees and survivors earlier that day in his home.
In his remarks, Consul General Nasimi Aghayev: “I am standing here tonight as a proud citizen of a nation that has become a symbol, in our troubled region and beyond, of peace, mutual respect and harmony among all religions and ethnicities. Under the wise leadership of President Ilham Aliyev, Azerbaijan is today a place where Sunni and Shia Muslims, Christians, Jews, and others live peacefully together, with everyone contributing to the strength of our society and free nation, making it a striking example of harmony for many others around the world.”
Consul General Aghayev spoke about Azerbaijan’s 2,000-year old Jewish community as well as the successful cooperation and partnership between Azerbaijan and Israel in various fields ranging from energy to defense to tourism.
The Consul General also spoke about the illegal military occupation and ethnic cleansing of Azerbaijan’s Karabakh region by neighboring Armenia. Highlighting the history of the conflict, Aghayev mentioned that as a result of this military occupation of around 20 percent of Azerbaijan’s sovereign territory, over 800,000 Azerbaijani civilians were expelled from their ancestral lands in the Nagorno-Karabakh region and seven surrounding districts.
Then Consul General introduced the head of the Azerbaijani Community of Azerbaijan's Nagorno Karabakh region Tural Ganjaliyev, community member Gulmammad Mammadov, as well as Khojaly massacre survivors Durdane Agayeva and Jeyhun Alakbarov.
In his remarks, Tural Ganjaliyev informed the attendees about his happy childhood in Shusha, the historic capital of Karabakh, before it was invaded by Armenian troops in 1992 when he was 12 years old, forcing him and his family to flee the impending invasion and massacres. Ganjaliyev also highlighted the cultural cleansing carried out by Armenia against Azerbaijani heritage in the occupied territories of Azerbaijan, such as the complete destruction of the City of Agdam or the desecration of Azerbaijani mosques and graveyards.
Speaking afterwards, Gulmammad Mammadov and Durdane Agayeva talked about the ordeals they went through as internally displaced people and shared their stories. All three speakers from the delegation expressed their hope and desire that after the resolution of the conflict and return of the displaced Azerbaijani people to their homeland, they will continue to live peacefully with the Armenian community in Nagorno-Karabakh.
The event was received with much interest and admiration from the audience.
Short video clip of the event can be watched here