World Congress of Mountain Jews (WCMJ) – international non-governmental organization aims to unite communities of Mountain Jews residing in different countries
– Israel, Russia, Azerbaijan, USA, Canada, Germany, Austria. Since 2017 WCMJ has obtained a special consultative status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC).
The mission of the Congress is increasing links both between Mountain Jews living in different countries and between all peoples and progressive public organizations, interested in consolidation of peace, tolerance, progress, cultural and humanitarian development.
WCMJ was formed in the First Founding Meeting of the Congress in Tel-Aviv (Israel) on the 7th of February, 2003. The meeting was organized by businessman and public figure Zaur Gilalov, who made considerable efforts for the integration of the Mountain Jewish communities worldwide.
Since 2017 there is a rapid increase of activities, the scale and level of the events organized by WCMJ. That is due to the position of Zaur Gilalov’s brother, Akif TGilalov, who succeeded Zaur after his tragical death as head of the WCMJ and gave it a new powerful impetus.
On November 23rd, 2017, a state reception was held at the United Nations Office in Moscow, dedicated to the consultative status which WCMJ was given with the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC).
Since the obtaining of this status WCMJ received international recognition, entering a new stage of its development with opportunity to participate at the international level in discussion of such actual topics as respect for basic human rights and freedoms.
On February 19th , 2018, in Jerusalem an official meeting between the head of the WCMJ Akif Gilalov and the Prime Minister of the State of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu was held. As reported, the meeting was dedicated mostly to the activities conducted by the WCMJ and its further development. Also during the meeting they discussed the perspectives of the building of the Community Cultural Center for Sephardic Jews in Moscow. At that time a few other official meetings were held – with the chairman of Knesset (Israeli Parliament) Yuliy Edelshtein and the minister of Jerusalem Affairs Zeev Elkin, where they discussed the activities of the WCMJ.
On October 9th, 2018, in the building of the Moscow Government, the WCMJ in cooperation with the Federation of Sephardic Jews Communities conducted the presentation of the book «Mountain Jews». The monograph is dedicated to the traditional and modern culture of Mountain Jews, the problem of their ethnogenesis and the place of modern Mountain-Jewish groups in different countries in the world. The book was written by the international group of authors from Russia and Israel. The project of the book was initiated and its implementation organized by the head of the WCMJ, the chairman of Federation of Sephardic Jewish communities, Akif Gilalov.
On November 5th, 2018, Pope Francis welcomed in Vatican the delegation of the WCMJ led by Akif Gilalov. As reported, Pontiff supported and blessed the initiation of «World Council of Mono-Religions» which the head of the WCMJ Akif Gilalov intends to create.
On November 19th , 2018, in Jerusalem there was the solemn awards ceremony «The man of 2018» in various categories. The event was organized by the WCMJ in cooperation with Israeli Union of Mountain Jews.
On December 13th, 2018, the presentation of the WCMJ in the United Nations headquarters in New York (the USA) was held. Among the guests there were representatives of world Mountain Jewish Community, international Jewish circles, members of the U.S. Congress and American establishment, all the guests received the book «Mountain Jews». The guests of honor delivered their speeches and a world-famous cantor of New York’s Fifth Avenue Synagogue Josef Malovany performed with choir.
On May 9, 2019, the World Congress of Mountain Jews, together with the Federal Agency for Nationalities Affairs and the embassy of Russian Federation to Israel, organized the series of events in Israel, devoted to the Victory Day: a gala concert in Tel-Aviv entitled “Nobody is forgotten, nothing is forgotten”, which was attended by more than 150 veterans, the next day, , a veteran march in Jerusalem.
On December 16, 2019, a historic meeting of the Patriarch of Bartholomew I of Constantinople and a delegation of the World Congress of Mountain Jews took place in Istanbul.
On January 15, 2020, at the UN headquarters in New York, a personal meeting was held between the head of the World Congress of Mountain Jews, Mr. Akif Gilalov, and the UN Secretary General, His Excellency Mr. Antonio Guterres.
During the audience, the UN Secretary General, Mr. António Guterres, supported the initiatives of the Congress and expressed confidence in the further fruitful cooperation and successful implementation of joint projects.
On January 22, the UNESCO headquarters in Paris hosted an event dedicated to Holocaust Remembrance Day, a joint event of UNESCO, World Congress of Mountain Jews and the Permanent Mission of the Russian Federation to UNESCO.