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Bulgaria
BULGARIA - THE JEWISH COMMUNITY

 

JewishGen's ShtetlSeeker references border changes to locate a given town. JewishGen has other references regarding the Jewish community. Bulgaria is bordered by the Black Sea, Romania and Turkey.  Slightly larger than Tennessee. Jews represent 0.8% ot the population of about 8.2 million. Bulgaria has nine provinces (oblasti, singular - oblast) Burgas, Grad Sofiya, Khaskovo, Lovech, Montana, Plovdiv, Ruse, Sofiya and Varna.[February 2009]

History and history of the rescue of the entire Jewish community during WWI thanks to the King of Bulgaria and the Patriarch of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church [February 2009]

The Bulgarian Jewish community may have existed since destruction of the First Temple with Jews arriving via Asia Minor. A Jewish settlement  existed in Macedonia at the time of Caligula (37-41 C.E. Coins from the Bar Kochba revolt found in the area suggest that Jewish slaves arrived after the failure of the revolt in 132-5 CE. Additionally, a stela from the village of Gigen in the Sofia museum, is inscribed "Yosefus archiesynagogus", or Joseph, head of the synagogue. A mosaic floor from a second or third century synagogue in Plovdiv is further evidence. Theodosius I's decree to the governors of Thrace and Illyria in 379 persecuted Jews in these areas with synagogues destroyed.

Three distinct communities developed: Greek-speaking Romaniots, fleeing Sephardi Jews from Spain and Portugal, and Ashkenazi Jews. By the seventeenth century, most of these Jews followed Sephardic ritual and tradition. Turkish, Spanish and Greek influences joined Eastern Europe sources such as Poland and Hungary to create Jewish Bulgaria. In 1335 the Bulgar King Johann Alexander married a Jewish woman, Sarah, who reigned as Queen Theodora.The central rabbinical court exercised authority over beit din in Sofia, Plovdiv, and Rushchuk (now Ruse). "The Jewish community of Bulgaria survived the Holocaust intact. Immediately following World War II, however, approximately ninety percent of Bulgaria's 50,000 Jews immigrated to Israel. Those who remained found their lives and institutions controlled by the Communist Party; religious life during this period was almost eradicated. The reign of Communism also greatly damaged the community's art treasures: grand synagogues were abandoned or appropriated and valuable sacred and ritual objects were sold or plundered." Since the fall of Communism, the Jewish community revived in Sofia and Plovdiv. Today some 5,000 Jews make up the Jewish community that, with the aid of new legislation, reclaimed several properties. Source: Center for Jewish Art that has much information about Jewish art and artifacts as well as synagogues in Samokov, Pazardzik, Varna, and Plovdiv (Philipopolis) in Macedonia with photos.  [February 2009]

See The Virtual Jewish History Tour for detailed Bulgarian Jewish history links and history text. [February 2009]

Shalom Organization of Jews in Bulgaria, successor to the Social and Cultural Organization of Jews in Bulgaria: Beit Ha'am: 50 Stambolijski, Sophia. telephone: 001-359-2-926-5301, fax: 359-2-981-1139. The Beit Ha'am houses many Jewish organizations including the Joint Distribution Committee--Bulgaria. (359-2-981-4332). The Jewish Old Age Home at 18 Kojuh Planina, telephone: 359-2-865-0513 is part of the services. [February 2009]

Sofia  Central Synagogue and Museum at 16 Exarkh Yosif, telephone: 359-2-983-1273.At the intersection of Todor Alexandrov and Hristo Botev Boulevards at the Tel Aviv-Yafo Square. Dedicated in October 2002.

Next to Bulgaria's parliament building in Sofia lies a trapezoidal bronze plaque on a granite base that serves to commemorate the non-Jewish Bulgarians and parliamentarians who worked to stop the deportation of 8,500 Bulgarian Jews to Nazi concentration camps. Towns that had Jewish population in Bulgaria in the past that may have burial sites:

 

Current Name Previous Name(s)
Burgas Bergos, Bourghas
Dupnica Dupnitch, Dobnica, Dupnitsa, Stenke Dimitrov
Kustendil Kjustendil
Nikopol Nicopolis, Nigbolo
Pazardzhik Pazardjik, Tatarpazari, Tatar Pazardki
Pleven Bleune, Plevne
Plovdiv Filippoli
Ruse Русе Roustchouk, Rousse, Rusc
Sliven Islimiye
Stara Zagora Zagr-I-atik, Eskiagra, Yeski Sagta, Stara Sagora
Vidin Widdim

 

REFERENCES
Books

  • Arditti, Benyamin. Yehude Bulgaryah: bi-shenot ha-mishtar ha-Natsi, 1940-1944 (B. J. Arditti [1961])
  • Beni, Albert. Yehude Bulgaryah be-maavak neged ha-Natsim (Histadrut ha-Tsiyonit ha-Olamit, 1980)
  • Elazar , Daniel J. The Balkan Jewish Communities: Yugoslavia, Bulgaria, Greece and Turkey". Lanham, Maryland and London, England: University Press of America, 1984.
  • The Fragility of Goodness: why Bulgaria's Jews survived the Holocaust. (a collection of texts with commentary by Tzvetan Todorov; translated by Arthur Denner. (Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 2001)
  • Haskell, Guy. From Sofia to Jaffa: The Jews of Bulgaria and Israel (Wayne State Univ. Press, 1994). YIVO /86768
  • Sack, Sallyann Amdur. "Project to Document Jews of Turkey, Salonika, Bulgaria and Belgrade". Avotaynu, volume 14, no. 2, page 40. 1998
  • Benbassa, Esther and Aron Rodrigue. A Sephardi Life in Southeastern Europe: The Autobiography and Journal of Gabriel Ari.  University of Washington Press in Seattle and London in 1998.
  • Tamir, Vicki. Bulgaria and Her Jews: The History of a Dubious Symbiosis (John Wiley, 1979)
Web Sites

 

Title Filter     Display # 
# Burial Location
1 BURGAS: [Bourgas, Burgaz, Pirgos, Bourgas, Burghaz]
2 CHIRPAN [Shirpan, Čirpan, Tchirpan, Tschirpan] Stara Zagora Province
3 DUPNITSA: [Dupnica, Stanke Dimitrov, Stanke Dimitrovo, Marek, Dupniza, Dupnica, Dubnica, Doupnitza, Dupnica Stanke Dimitrovo, Marek, Dupniza, Dupnica, Dubnica, Doupnitza, Dupnica] in Kyustendill Province
4 GIGEN
5 GOTSE DELCHEV: [Gotsi Delchev, Nevrekop [Nevrokop, Newrokop, Gotze Deltchev] Blagoevgrad Province
6 HASKOVO: [Khaskovo, Hasköy, Chaskowo,Chaskovo, Haskovo, Haskiöj, Chasköi]
7 HOPESIN
8 KARNOBAT: [Karnabat, Karnobat, Poljanovgrad, Polyanovgrad] Burgas Province
9 KAZANLAK: Stara Zagora Province, [Kasanlăk, Kazanlăk, Kazanlek, Kazanlik, Kazanlk, Kazanlŭk]
10 KYUSTENDIL: [Köstendil, Kjustendil , Velbazhd, Küstendil, Kiousténdil, Keustendil]
11 LOM [Lom Palanka, Nikolaevo, Dzhembek Makhala, Nikolaewo, Kalen Potok, Aligina Makhala]
12 PAZARDJIK: [PAZARCIK .PAZARDZHIK , TATAR PAZARDŽIK PASARDSCHIK,, TATAR PAZARDZHIK, TATAR PAZARDJIK, TATAR BAZARDŽIK, TATAR-BAZARDZHIK, PAZARDŽIK, PAZARDJIK, PASARDSHIK,
13 PLEVEN: [Plevna, Plevne, Plewen] Pleven Province
14 PLOVDIV: [PLOVDIV , FILIBE, PHILIPPOPOLOO, VINIPOPPOLIS, POULPOUDEVA, PLOVDIN, PLOUDIN, PINOPLE, PHILIPPOPOLIS, PHILIPPOPEL, FILIPOPOL, FILIBA]
15 RUSE [Rousse, Russe, Rustchuk, Rusciuc , Rusçuk, ] Rousse, Rustchuk, Rustschuk, Rushtuk, Rushchuk, Ruščuk, Rusciuk, Rustciuk, Ruschuq, Ruschuk, Roustchouk, Rouschouk]
16 SAMOKOV[Samokow, Samakov]: Sofia province
17 SHUMEN [Şumnu, Schumen, Kolarovgrad, Shumla, Šumla, Šumen, Choumen]
18 SILISTRA: Silistra Province
19 SLIVEN: [IIslimiye, Sliwen, Islimje]
20 SOFYIA [Sophia, Sofia, Sofya, Sofiye, Serdica, Uploa-serica, Sreders, Sofija]: Sofiya District
21 VARNA: [Stalin, Warna, Odessos, Odessus
22 VIDIN [Widin, Vidine]
23 YAMBOL [Yanbolu, Yampolis, Jamboli, Jambol, Iambol]
 
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