SERRES 1939 JEWISH SCHOOLWe meet Jews in Serres almost from the beginning of the city's history, or rather, Jews meet the history of Serres as the city develops and establishes itself as the largest commercial center of eastern Macedonia.

Since the Byzantine years, there was a Greek-speaking Romaniot Jewish community in Serres. Rabbi Benjamin ben Jonah, of Tudela, Spain, who visited the region of eastern Macedonia about 1162, notes the existence of a Jewish element. Part of the community relocated to Balata, Constantinople, in the middle of the 15th century, with the favor of Mohammed the Conqueror, who sought to enrich the depopulated City with healthy and prosperous elements.

The Synagogue of Serres existed in Balatas until the end of the 19th century, when it was destroyed by fire. These Romanian Jews were met by the Spanish-speaking Sephardic Jewish refugees, when they came from the Iberian peninsula and settled in the big cities of the Ottoman Empire and therefore also in Serres. The Sephardim Jews soon absorbed the Romanized community, imposed their own culture, and gave the city's Jewish community economic growth and spiritual brilliance, as evidenced by the existence of Kabbalistic tradition.

They established the magnificent Kal Gadol Great Synagogue, as well as a rabbinic library, seminary, and elementary school. A period of decline followed, until 1896, when the city was connected to the railway, and a new period of prosperity and development began, for the city of Serres and consequently for the Jewish community. The Balkan wars marked Serres. The city was burned, destroyed. The Jewish community began to shrink, its members to scatter. Many moved to Drama and Kavala.

In the years between the wars, despite its population decrease, the Israeli Community of Serres, did not cease to be an active community. It is characteristically mentioned that the first importers of cinema in the city were the businessmen Simadov, Ovadias and Kabilis. More generally, however, the Jews of Serres in the younger years were proletarian tobacco workers, shop owners, tobacco merchants and also wealthy businessmen. The next stop for the Jewish community was the Bulgarian Occupation of 1941-1944.


serres epigrafiThe Serrai Jews refused any cooperation with the Bulgarians, when it was asked of them. The response of the Community Council is typical: "We were born in Greece. Greece is the land of our fathers. We are Greeks. We do not change our nationality for any reason, for any fee."

The last stop was the terrible night of March 3, 1943, when the Bulgarians gathered the Jews in a tobacco warehouse, just outside the city. In a few days, they started for the journey of no return. Many drowned in the Danube when the barges carrying them overturned. Those saved in the river were reduced to ashes in the Treblinka camp.

The few survivors of the Jews of Serres owe their salvation to the forces of the National Resistance.

At this point, the exemplary humane attitude of the Serrai should be noted, none of them came to buy at the auction held by the Bulgarians with the belongings of the Jews.



serres psifismaAfter the War only 3 Jews lived in Serres. What is left today, to remind the passage of the Jews from the city? What is left today, to make the inhabitants know to tell you, why they left and where did their Jewish fellow citizens go?

The old Jewish school remained, in the yard of which there used to be a Synagogue and which still functions today as a primary school, also known in the city as the "Jewish".

Some remained, who still remember Alberto-Ruben Priznalis, a well-known merchant of the city who was saved by fleeing a rebel in the mountains. Priznal's two daughters remained, Mathilde – today a pharmacist in the city and Margarita, last members of a community that was lost.

The marble inscription remained, in honor of the 476 Serrai of Jewish origin, for the "UNJUST AND INHUMAN EXTERMINATION ON MARCH 3 & 4, 1943 OF THE INTELLIGENT COMMUNITY OF THE GREEK-JEWISH TOWNS OF SERRA BY THE FASCIST BULGARIAN TROOPS OF OCCUPATION", which in a special ceremony on 5.3.2000. XNUMX posted by the Municipality of Serres. The initiative of the Municipality to commemorate, with special events every year, the Holocaust of the Jews of Serres will still remain.