KYUSTENDIL: [Köstendil, Kjustendil , Velbazhd, Küstendil, Kiousténdil, Keustendil] Print

Coat of arms of Kyustendil Alternate names: Kyustendil and Кюстендил [Bulg], Köstendil [Turk], Kjustendil [Ger], Velbazhd, Küstendil, Kiousténdil, Keustendil. 42°17' N, 22°41' E, in W Bulgaria, near the borders with Serbia and Macedonia. 42 miles SW of Sofiya. The town is famous for its spa and mineral waters. Whilte the majority of the population are Orthodox, several Christian denominations and a small Jewish community exist. During Ottoman rule, the Turkish population were Muslim, but of the many mosques, only two remain.

"In the 16th century this town had a small Jewish community. In 1878 when Bulgaria gained its independence, the community numbered 853 and grew steadily. They were artisans, merchants, porters, etc. The merchants among them dealt in plums, wool, butter, and tobacco. The local synagogue was built in 1863. In 1874 a *blood libel against the Jews spread, when a Christian child was missing; there were also anti-Jewish riots in 1901 for the same reason. The 1935 census gave the number of Jews as 853, while the 1943 census listed 980 Jews. The community did not suffer severely during World War II. The 1943 expulsion decree from Bulgaria was not carried out. In 2004 there was a community of around 90 Jews affiliated with the local branch of the nationwide Shalom organization." Source [Sept 2014]

Wikipedia [Sept 2014]

Partisans [Sept 2014]

Town video [Sept 2014]

CEMETERY:

Cemetery video [Sept 2014]

The new cemetery is situated 1.5 km east of the center of Kyustendil. The original Jewish cemetery was on the left hill of the Adjundarski gorge, near the Katranlia mahala (residential district). The municipal cemetery was near the Sveti Mina church but these cemeteries violated the local health law. They also impeded the town's development. In 1894, the municipal cemetery was moved between the road to Sofia and the road to Dupnitza, far enough from the town and not on arable land. In 1900, the Jewish cemetery moved to an adjacent location and was used until 1951. The 1.9 hectares site contains about 600 visible gravestones with Hebrew and Bulgarian inscriptions. No wall or fence surrounds the site. The cemetery repeatedly was vandalized between 1989 and 1999 and is in a very poor condition. Many gravestones were destroyed by nationalists in 1994 . The police did not find the perpetrators. 80% of the gravestones are broken or stolen. Several attempts to restore the cemetery were too costly. The cemetery was maintained by Shalom-Kyustendil and a regular caretake so vegetation is cut regularly.  Water drainage is not a problem.

Kyustendil Jewish cemetery, 2010 | Facebook [SEPT 2014]