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30.11.2012. 18:05
"Kratka povijest Sarajeva" na WEBu B'nai B'ritha
 

A SHORT HISTORY OF JEWISH SARAJEVO


The first Jews arrived in Sarajevo via Salonika in 1541. They were the descendants of the Sephardic Jews expelled from Spain. They were artisans, merchants, doctors and pharmacists bringing with them their traditions, language (Ladino) and culture.


With permission from the Ottoman Porte they built their quarters called El Cortijo (the Courtyard) in 1577. In 1580 with the support of a Turkish benefactor they built the first Synagogue called the Old Jewish Cathedral of Sarajevo. Under the Ottoman rule the Jewish community of Sarajevo received certain rights which allowed them to expand the community; The Jews were encouraged to continue their international trading practices.



By the 17th century the Sephardic Jews were joined by the Ashkenazi Jews who were fleeing persecution in Europe. The two communities remained separated until the outbreak of World War II.


The Austrians occupied Sarajevo in 1697. They destroyed the JewishQuarter and burned the Synagogue. The Ottomans re-took the city in 1739 and granted the Jews official recognition. By 1856 Jews had equal status before the law. Jewish life in Sarajevo prospered, it was called Little Jerusalem; it had several communal organizations and the first Ladino newspaper, La Alborada, a scientific and literary weekly.


After World War I, Bosnia became part of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia while the Jewish community of Sarajevo continued to thrive. It all changed with WWII. Until 1941 there were between 8.000-12.000 Jews living in Sarajevo. The Croatian fascists who ran the deportations and concentration camps killed 85% of the Jewish population. Most of those who survived emigrated to Israel in 1948-49.


 Today there are about 700 Jews in Sarajevo out of a total population of 400.000. A Rabbi comes from Israel for the High Holidays (EliezerPapo who directs a center for Safardic studies at Ben Gurion University). They have Friday evening services and some of the prayers are still in Ladino. There is a community center, a Jewish museum; a Jewish quarterly,"The Jewish Voice", is still being published. The famous 14th century Sarajevo Haggadah was hidden both during the WWII and the Balkan Wars by the Sarajevo museum. Unfortunately it can be viewed only on 4 specific days per year (now the museum is closed to the public).


The biggest problem of the Jewish community is ageing. During the Balkan war the children of the Jewish community were sent for safety to Israel. Only 2 returned. Now the community is missing the age group of 30-40. In the last 3 years they had over 40 funerals and only one birth.

  

 

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