Azerbaijan’s Salvation Day celebrated at Beth Israel Congregation

Azerbaijan’s Salvation Day celebrated at Beth Israel Congregation


By Rachel Avraham

Last night, around 100 people came to celebrate Azerbaijan’s Salvation Day at Beth Israel Congregation in Netanya. Two Azerbaijani Jewish singers named Liora Safanov and Tomer Aliyev, alongside the Dance Ansamble Bereket, which is an Israeli Jewish group whose ancestors came from the Caucuses, performed. I delivered a speech as well in Hebrew, explaining what is Salvation Day and why Azerbaijanis celebrate it. Azerbaijani national cuisine was served from one of the best Azerbaijani restaurants in Netanya, alongside Azerbaijani wine and other beverages.

The audience got up and danced to the music and very much enjoyed the event. The event was organized together with the “For the Descendants of the Caucuses” organization, of which 50% of the dancers are Azerbaijani and the rest are from other areas of the Caucuses. The head of this organization is Oleg Alhazov, who works for the Netanya Municipality and has done a number of prominent shows at the Netanya Cultural Center and other places across the city. He is considered a very important figure in the city of Netanya. The Honorable Ayoob Kara wrote an article about the event in the Jerusalem Post.

In my speech, I proclaimed: “National Salvation Day in Azerbaijan commemorates the decisive leadership of future President Heydar Aliyev. Heydar Aliyev was the First Secretary of the Communist Party of Azerbaijan. He led the country until 1982, when he was appointed to the post of First Deputy Chairman of the Council of Ministers of the USSR. In 1991, he began to govern his native Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic, where he remained in power even after the collapse of the Soviet Union.”

“Meanwhile, newly independent Azerbaijan struggled with political instability, and after the Azerbaijan Popular Front Party came to power in 1992, it proved unable to control the tumultuous situation in the newly established republic,” I continued. “In the early 1990’s, there were many bomb attacks in Azerbaijan and the country suffered grave territorial losses, with the Armenian Armed Forces occupying 20% of Azerbaijani territory.”

According to my speech, “By the spring of 1993, the country found itself on the verge of civil war. Azerbaijanis began to demand Aliyev’s reinstatement as state leader and they invited Aliyev to return to Baku from Nakhchivan in June of that year. On June 15, 1993, Aliyev was appointed chairman of the National Assembly of the Republic of Azerbaijan. He managed to restore calm in the land, thus averting the impending civil war, and June 15 went down in history as National Salvation Day.”

“On June 24, Aliyev temporarily assumed the position of president,” I added. “Following a nationwide election, Aliyev officially became the president of Azerbaijan in October 1993 and ruled the country for the next ten years. And this is why Azerbaijanis today celebrate National Salvation Day, as a civil war and a national crisis was averted, thus creating national unity rather than division in Azerbaijan.”

“National Salvation Day in Azerbaijan acquired official status in 1997, and in 1998 it became a public national holiday,” I concluded. “Today it is commemorated with festive events held in large cities and remote mountain regions alike. Traditional Azerbaijani dances and games are organized, and in capital city Baku, the government arranges a military parade presided over by the president and a colorful evening fireworks show above the Caspian Sea shoreline. Yet most Azerbaijanis prefer to celebrate the holiday privately with friends and relatives, where a variety of dishes are prepared for family feasts by Azerbaijani women, famous for their culinary skills. Thus, without further adieu, I would like to encourage you to enjoy our National Salvation Day festivities. Thank you.”

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