VIDIN [Widin, Vidine] Print

Coat of arms of Vidin Alternate names: Vidin and Видин [Bulg], Widin, Vidine. 43°59' N, 22°52' E, NW Bulgaria, on the Danube (border with Romania), near the Serbian border. Видин. This port town on the southern bank of the Danube in NW Bulgaria close to the borders with Romania and Serbia is the administrative centre of Vidin Province, as well as of the Metropolitan of Vidin (since 870). This agricultural and trade center is known for its wine.

Wikipedia [Sep 2014]

Jewish history in Jewish Virtual Library: "The fortress of Judaeus, which was rebuilt in the vicinity of Vidin by Justinian I (527-565), confirms the presence of Jews at that time (Procopius of Caesarea (6th century) War with the Goths, Dewing translation, 1954, B. IV. VI. 21). After the expulsion of the Jews from Hungary in 1376, some of them settled in Vidin. When Vidin fell to the Turks in 1394, the community was led by Shalom Ashkenazi of Neustadt (Hungary), who founded a yeshivah in the town and whose pupil Dosa ha-Yevani ("the Greek") wrote in 1430 the work Perush ve-Tosafot. Refugees from Bavaria, who were expelled in 1470, also settled in Vidin. Refugees from Spain arrived there via Salonika. In 1778 David Shabbetai Ventura, the author of Nehar Shalom (Amsterdam, 1774), and Elijah Ventura, the author of Kokheva de-Shavit (Salonika, 1799), arrived in Vidin. To commemorate the escape of the Jews of Vidin during the rule of the Turkish leader Pazvantoglu (1794), a local Purim was fixed on the fourth of Adar. The number of Jews in Vidin at the end of the 19th century was between 1,300 and 1,500; in 1919 there were 2,000 Jews and in 1926, 1,534. The members of the community did not suffer severely during World War II. The decree of expulsion in 1943 was not carried out (see*Bulgaria). After the establishment of the State of Israel, most of the Jews of Vidin immigrated there together with most of Bulgarian Jewry. In 2004 there were 55 Jews in Vidin, affiliated to the local branch of the nationwide Shalom organization." [Sep 2014]

Near Romanian Wallachia and Hungary, Vidin changed hands several times in the past and developed a cosmopolitan Jewish community with four synagogues by the end of the 17th century. 1900 Jewish population: 1,780 Jews out of 14,772 people. Near the main square stands a white stone monument erected by Vidin Jews living in Israel, to thank Bulgaria for its help in saving them during World War II. [Sep 2014]

Synagogue history and reclamation project.  SynagogueCorner of Baba Vida  and Jules Pascin streets. Today a  gaping roofless ruin, the synagogue completed in 1894 on a triangular plot in the old section of the city known as Kaleto (Fortress) stands near great church of the Christian Orthodox Patriarch of Vidin and a historic mosque, as does the ruined Jewish school. The basilican form with a single apse and four towers design was influenced by Jugendstil, Romanesque and Neoclassical forms. Inside, the synagogue had a massive vaulted ceiling with tiles. Wrought iron columns supported two levels of arcaded galleries on either side. These fluted columns still exist, their capitals painted with spirals, palmettes and acanthus leaves. Stained glass, floor mosaics, decorative grilles and crystal chandeliers completed the decorative scheme. Two vestibules contain marble bas-reliefs and a bronze inscription in Hebrew. The building was empty when damaged by an earthquake in 1976. Used as a warehouse after World War II, intermittent repairs ceased in 1989. The building has continued to deteriorate with no roof or window. Brickwork is damaged by erosion and swallowed by rubbish, rubble, trees and undergrowth. In 1984 the National Institute for Cultural Monuments began conservation and restoration work, but funding was withdrawn in 1989 (after workers had removed the roof). The building has been returned to the Jewish community, which, preoccupied by the restoration of Sofia Central Synagogue and other projects,is unable to raise the funds (at least U.S. $1 million)  needed. Plans have been floated to restore it as a museum honoring Jules Pascin, a Vidin-born painter (born Julius Mordecai Pincas) who worked mainly in the United States and Paris before committing suicide in 1930. [sep 2014]

Guide to Jewish Bulgaria. {Sep 2014]

Interview about Jewish Life in Vidin, before, during and after World War II

Interview about Jewish Life in Vidin, with recollections of the Synagogue

Johann Brandstatter photography. Mr. Brandstatter said "Shooting on the Jewish cemetery in Vidin turned out to be one of the most depressing jobs I ever did. More than a thousand graves lie there unattended, desecrated, deliberately destroyed." [Sep 2014]

CEMETERY:

The Jewish population of Vidin of 25 people maintains a cemeter established in 1879. The oldest known grave dates from 1880. Most gravestones are 20th century with the last known Jewish burial in 1976. The 1.85 hectares site owned by the Jewish community of Bulgaria contains 1,056 headstones. The  mix of vertical and horizontal gravestones reflect the mix of Sephardi and Ashkenazi Jewish traditions. The granite, marble, and limestone gravestones have Bulgarian, Hebrew, and Yiddish inscriptions . Three gravestones were moved to the Christian cemetery. The unprotected site has no fence, gate, or wall. The cemetery was first seriously vandalized in 1980, and, presumably, often afterward. Gravestones have been smashed and graves excavated by scavengers looking for treasure. Overgrowth is a year-round problem and water drainage is a seasonal problem at the site. photos. Images for vidin Jewish cemetery. photos of Vidin. [Sep 2014]

Pictures of the Jewish Cemetery and Synagogue

 


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