web analytics
January 31, 2015 / 11 Shevat, 5775
 
At a Glance
Sections
Sponsored Post


Home » Sections » Books »

Title: Last Century Of A Sephardic Community, The Jews of Monastir, 1839-1943

Title: Last Century Of A Sephardic Community, The Jews of Monastir, 1839-1943
Author: Mark Cohen
Publisher: The Foundation for the Advancement of Sephardic Studies and Culture, New York, N.Y.

 

This intriguing volume is really three books in one. The first is a fully comprehensive and annotated history of the Balkan community, so-named for a prominent monastery that once stood here in a crossroads community between Western Europe and Asia. The second is an account of the thousands of lives lost to the Shoah, including a history, and a “Holocaust Deportation” list. Last is a glimpse into the warmth and joy of life in Monastir - with poetry,
songs, folk tales and proverbs representing the spirit of a vital Jewish community that existed for hundred of years.

A number of similar volumes have been published recently; most are dry, soulless records
enumerating names, dates, and places in unknown localities that once existed. Here, in Last Century, Mr. Cohen has put a face on a lost community, whose descendants can only dream of the glory that once was their fathers’.

Monastir, while not a wealthy community, always exuded Yiddishkeit, and in spite of the fact
that the Jews of Monastir were well integrated into the larger non-Jewish community, the communal and religious observances were paramount in their lives.

Almost through a quirk of fate, Monastir, which was formerly a Turkik crossroads city in Macedonia, and was under the control of Bulgaria for many years, fell into the hands of Yugoslavia. Yugoslavia resisted Nazi demands for anti-Semitic legislation during the 1930s, but after the Nazi invasion of Poland in 1939 it succumbed and finally passed anti-Jewish measures. Although the Macedonian portion of Yugoslavia was under Bulgarian control – the Bulgarians never gave up their Jews to Hitler’s machine – the Macedonian and Greek Jewish communities were all deported to Auschwitz and Treblinka in March of 1943. Almost none returned.

Much of the book relates stories of the continuous efforts of the Jews of Monastir to inculcate
religious values among their youth, and the hostility that existed between their elders and the officials of The Alliance, of France, which assisted in building and staffing the schools. The Jews of Monastir were primarily interested in having rabbis and Talmud Torahs providing religious education, while The Alliance wanted to promote “Western” values in order to raise the income and standard of living of the community.

Although the Monastir Jews were mostly “working poor” and tradespeople, when they were
called upon for financial assistance by other Jewish communities in the region or in Eretz Yisrael, they were surprisingly generous. On at least one occasion, the community was visited by the English philanthropist Sir Moses Montefiore, who came on a fact-finding trip as a representative of the London Kehillah.

Descendants of Monastir Jewry can be found in America, primarily in New York City, as well as Rochester, New York, and Indianapolis, Indiana. Many of these are now associated with the American Sephardi Federation in New York City and are prominent among those who established the famous Sephardic Home for Adults in Brooklyn, New York.

The book’s Deportation List is an amazing record, listing the names and ages of the deportees,
their wives, children, and even their occupations. Each listing is for a head of family, grouping the family members with them. There are 760 names on this memorial to these Jews killed by the Nazis.

The folklore section includes work done by linguists and ethnographers Max A. Luria and
Cynthia M. Crews, who went to Monastir in the ’20s and ’30s to collect oral material. They saved much from extinction, for few Jews in Monastir were literate in any language except Hebrew learned in cheder or spoken Judeo-Spanish (Ladino).

The bibliography is truly remarkable. In it are listed original documents only available in archival sources in five countries on three continents, as well as literally hundreds of volumes, periodicals and secondary sources which, together with a fluid and engaging writing style, help make Last Century of a Sephardic Community interesting reading both for the serious student of history and those interested in vanished Jewish communities of yesteryear.

About the Author:


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “Title: Last Century Of A Sephardic Community, The Jews of Monastir, 1839-1943”

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
Jeremy Bird, working for Israeli campaign outfit V15, shown at Ted Talk, May 20, 2014.
V15 US Political Operative Marinated in Hate-Israel Activism
Latest Sections Stories
South-Florida-logo

The musical production was beautifully performed by the middle school students.

South-Florida-logo

Greige offered a post of her own. She said, “I was very cautious to avoid being in any photo or communication with Miss Israel.” She contends that she was photobombed.

South-Florida-logo

This year, 40 couples were helped. The organization needs the support of the extended Jewish community so that it can continue in its important work.

In the introduction to the first volume, R. Katz discusses the Torah ideal, arguing that the Torah’s laws are intended to craft the perfect man and are not to be regarded as ends unto themselves.

A highlight of the evening was the video produced by the Kleinman Family Holocaust Education Center on the legendary Agudah askan Reb Elimelech (Mike) Tress, a true Jewish hero.

Until recently his films were largely forgotten, but with their release last year on DVD by Re:Voir Video in Paris they are once again available.

Though the CCAR supported the Jewish right to emigrate to Eretz Yisrael, it strenuously objected to defining Palestine as the Jewish homeland.

“Well, you are also part of this class! If someone drills a hole in the boat, the boat will ultimately sink, and even the innocent ones will perish as well. The whole class must be punished!”

Nouril concluded he had no choice: He had to become more observant.

I find his mother to be a difficult person and my nature is to stay away from people like that.

Here are some recipes to make your Chag La’Illanot a festive one.

Does standing under the chuppah signal the end of our dream of romance and beautiful sunsets?

We aren’t at a platform; we are underground, just sitting there.

More Articles from Aharon Ben Anshel
book-Lincoln

It’s almost pointless to try to summarize all of the fascinating information that Holzer’s research unearthed.

book-disambiguation

While still a student in a small Midwest college she learns that her aunt in New York has passed away, resulting in her life turning topsy turvy.

Goldsmith himself went on his own “voyage of discovery” to the places where his grandfather and uncle landed and were sent.

Green was an American volunteer in Israel’s 1948 War of Independence, but something happened In Israel that has haunted him ever since.

Witnessed by Theodore Herzl, who was a journalist for a Viennese newspaper covering the trial, the cause célèbre became the spark that eventually caused the rise of the State of Israel in modern times.

These eleven nursing home residents and their accompanying staff from the Connecticut nursing home could represent any of us or our own loved ones…

There are three kinds of travelers: there are tourists, there are businesspeople, and then there are historians like Ben G. Frank.

The last kind doesn’t simply go from here to there. They try to relive history and find the real meaning behind what they experience.

Behind “the news” there’s almost always a story that isn’t being reported, and certain kinds of phenomenon occur almost simultaneously all over the world in almost every era.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/title-last-century-of-a-sephardic-community-the-jews-of-monastir-1839-1943/2004/01/01/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: