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  • проф. Елиезер Алфандари (1941 - 2009)
    Роден на 4 декември 1941 г. Елиезер Давид Алфандари е български журналист. Преподавател в СУ "Св. Климент Охридски". Бивш главен редактор на в. "Еврейски вести". Завършил Българска филология в СУ "...
  • худ. Султана Суружон (1904 - 1962)
    Sultana Suruzhon (Sultana Souroujon, Bulgarian: Султана Суружон, 1900, Novi Pazar - 1962, Bat Yam) was a Bulgarian modernist painter, notable for her portraits. Suruzhon was born on 12 May 1900 in No...
  • Дора ГАБЕ (1888 - 1983)
    Дора Петрова Габе (с рождено име: Изидора Пейсах) (28 август 1888, с. Харманлък, днес Дъбовик, Добричка област – 16 ноември 1983, София) е българска поетеса от еврейски произход.
  • худ. Елиезeр Алшех (1908 - 1983)
    Eliezer Alcheh is born in Vidin, Bulgaria in 1908. He studies painting in Munich’s Fine Arts Academy, taught by professors as Schinnerer in drawing and Caspar in painting. Afterwards he lives and works...
  • Alexis Weissenberg (1929 - 2012)
    Alexis Weissenberg was a Bulgarian-born French pianist.

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History of the Jews in Bulgaria dates to at least as early as the 2nd century CE. Since then, the Jews have had a continuous presence in the Bulgarian lands and have played an often considerable part in the history of Bulgaria from ancient times through the Middle Ages until today.

The earliest written trace of Jewish communities in what is today Bulgaria date to the late 2nd century BCE. A Latin inscription found at Ulpia Oescus (modern day Gigen, Pleven Province) bearing a menorah and mentioning archisynagogos Joseph testifies to the presence of a Jewish population in the city. A decree of Roman Emperor Theodosius I from 379 regarding the persecution of Jews and destruction of synagogues in Illyria and Thrace is also a proof of earlier Jewish settlement in Bulgaria.

Bulgarian Empire

After the establishment of the First Bulgarian Empire and its recognition in 681, a number of Jews suffering persecution in the Byzantine Empire may have settled in Bulgaria. During the rule of Boris I there may have been attempts to convert the pagan Bulgarians to Judaism, but in the end the Bulgarian Orthodox Church was established and the population of the Bulgarian Empire was Christianized in the 9th century. The names of many members of the 10th-11th-century Comitopuli dynasty—such as Samuil, Moses, David—could indicate partial Jewish origin, most likely maternal, though this is disputed.

Jews also settled in Nikopol in 967. Some arrived from the Republic of Ragusa and Italy, when merchants from these lands were allowed to trade in the Second Bulgarian Empire by Ivan Asen II.

Later, Tsar Ivan Alexander married a Jewish woman, Sarah (Theodora), who had converted to Christianity and had considerable influence in the court. A church council of 1352 led to the excommunication of heretics and Jews, and three Jews who had been sentenced to death were killed by a mob despite the sentence's having been repealed by the tsar.

The medieval Jewish population of Bulgaria was Romaniote until the 14th-15th century, when Ashkenazim from Hungary (1376) and other parts of Europe began to arrive.

Ottoman rule

By the time the Ottomans finished their conquest of the Bulgarian Empire in 1396 there were sizable Jewish communities in Vidin, Nikopol, Silistra, Pleven, Sofia, Yambol, Plovdiv (Philippopolis) and Stara Zagora.

Another wave of Ashkenazim, from Bavaria, arrived after being banished from this country in 1470, and Yiddish could often be heard in Sofia according to contemporary travellers. An Ashkenazi prayer book was printed in Saloniki by the rabbi of Sofia in the middle of the 16th century.

The first waves of Sephardim came from Spain (through Salonika, Macedonia, Italy, Ragusa, Bosnia) after 1494, and settlied in the already established centres of Jewish population—the major trade centres of Ottoman-ruled Bulgaria. The modern capital, Sofia, had communities of Romaniotes, Ashkenazim and Sephardim until 1640, when a single rabbi was appointed for all three.

In the 17th century, the ideas of Sabbatai Zevi became popular in Bulgaria, with supporters of his movement like Nathan of Gaza and Samuel Primo being active in Sofia. Jews continued to settle in various parts of the country (including new trade centres such as Pazardzhik), and were able to expand their economic activities due to the privileges they were given and the banishment of many Ragusan merchants who had taken part in the Chiprovtsi Uprising of 1688.

After Bulgaria was liberated from Ottoman rule following the Russo-Turkish War of 1877–78, the Jews in Bulgaria were secured equal rights by the Treaty of Berlin. The rabbi of Sofia, Gabriel Mercado Almosnino, together with three other Jews, welcomed the Russian forces to the city and took part in the Constituent National Assembly of Bulgaria in 1879.

Jews were drafted into the Bulgarian army and fought in the Serbo-Bulgarian War in 1885, the Balkan Wars, and the First World War. The Treaty of Neuilly after World War I emphasized their equality with other Bulgarian citizens. In 1936, the nationalist and anti-semitic organization Ratnik was established.

Before World War II, Ladino was the dominant language in most communities, but the young often preferred speaking Bulgarian. The Zionist movement was completely dominant among the local population ever since Hovevei Zion.

Bulgarian Jews during World War II


Few know the story of how all 50,000 Bulgarian Jews were saved. For decades, all records were sealed by the Bulgarian Communists in an attempt to prevent glorification of the King, the Church, and the non-Communist parliamentarians who at great personal risk stood up to the Germans.

Until the Communist downfall in 1991, the story remained untold, the last great secret of the Holocaust era. source

Culture & History

Rabbis and Scholars of Bulgaria

  • Rabbi Isaac b. Moses of Beja (16th century), who lived in Nikopol after the Turko-Walachian war (1598), wrote the book Bayit Ne'eman (1621).
  • Rabbi Isaiah Morenzi (d. after 1593), who also lived in Nikopol, introduced new customs into the yeshivah founded by Joseph Caro.
  • Abraham b. Aziz Borgil, another rabbi of Nikopol, was author of the book Lehem Abbirim (1605).
  • Moses Alfalas of Sofia, a famous preacher, published Va-Yakhel Moshe (Venice, 1597).
  • Daniel S. Zion, (Tsion, Tzion or Ziyon), (דניאל ציון) Kabbalist, a senior rabbi of Sofia during WWll.
  • Solomon Shalem of Adrianopolis 18th century
  • Issachar Abulafia 18th century
  • Simon Dankowitz
  • Solomon Rosanes, author of Divrei Yemei Yisrael be-Togarmah,
  • Saul MMzan, author of Les Juifs espagnols en Bulgarie.

Bulgaria Chief Rabbis

  • 1880- 1885 - Rab. Gabriel Almosnino (Nikopol 1805 - Sofia 188?).

  • 1885- 1889 - Rab. Presiado Bakish- interim Chief Rabbi.

  • 1889- 1891 - Rab. Shimon Dankowitz, former Bohemia Chief Rabbi.

  • 1891- 1893 - Rab. Moshe (Moshonachi)
  • Tadjer- interim Chief Rabbi (Sofia 1832- Kiustendil 1913).

  • 1893- 1895 - Rab. Dr. Mordekhay Gruenwald (1853 - London 1895)
1895- 1898 - Rab. Presiado Bakish - interim Chief Rabbi.

  • 1898- 1900 - Rab. Moshe (Moshonachi)
  • Tadjer - interim Chief Rabbi.

  • 1900- 1914 - Rab. Mordekhay Ehrenpreiss, former Bohemia Chief Rabbi.

  • 1914- 1918 - M. Hezkeya Shabetay Davidov - interim Chief Rabbi. (Sofia1880- 1950)

  • 1920- 1925 - Rab. David Pipano, A.B.D. formerly Sofia Rabbi, author of Hagor ha-Efod (1925)
  • 1925- 1945 - No Chief Rabbi. 

  • 1945- 1949 - Rab. Dr. Asher Hannanel .(Shumen 1895- Israel 1964)--- source

Famous Bulgarian Jews

  • • Albert Aftalion (1874–1956), economist, from Ruse
  • • Mira Aroyo (born 1977), musician and member of Ladytron, from Sofia
  • Elias Canetti (1905–1994), Nobel Prize-winning writer, from Ruse
  • • Tobiah ben Eliezer (11th century), talmudist and poet, from Kostur
  • • Itzhak Fintzi (born 1933), actor, from Sofia
  • • Solomon Goldstein (1884–1968/1969), communist politician, from Shumen
  • prof. Nikolai Kaufman Nikolay Kaufman (born 1925), musicologist and composer, from Ruse
  • • Milcho Leviev (born 1937), composer and musician, from Plovdiv
  • • Jacob L. Moreno (1889–1974), founder of psychodrama, father from Pleven
  • • Judah Leon ben Moses Mosconi (1328-?), talmudist born at Ochrid
  • Jules Pascin Jules Pascin (1885–1930), modernist painter, from Vidin
  • проф. Исак Паси Isaac Passy (1928–2010), philosopher, from Plovdiv
  • • Solomon Passy (born 1956), politician and former Minister of Foreign Affairs, from Plovdiv
  • Валери Нисимов Петров Valeri Petrov (born 1920), writer, from Sofia
  • Sarah al-Yahudi Sarah-Theodora (14th century), wife of Tsar Ivan Alexander
  • • Angel Wagenstein (born 1922), film director, from Plovdiv
  • Alexis Weissenberg Alexis Weissenberg (1929–2012), pianist, from Plovdiv
  • • Moshe Gueron (born 1926), cardiologist and researcher, from Sofia
  • Long List of Prominent Sephardic Jews of Bulgaria
  • The Yasharoff Family of Sofia UHMM

Knesset members

  • • Binyamin Arditi (1897–1981), from Sofia
  • • Michael Bar-Zohar (born 1938), from Sofia
  • • Shimon Bejarno (1910–1971), from Plovdiv
  • • Ya'akov Nehoshtan (born 1925)
  • • Ya'akov Nitzani (1900–1962), from Plovdiv
  • • Victor Shem-Tov (1915 - 2014), from Samokov
  • • Emanuel Zisman (1935–2009)

Famous Bulgarians

List of Famous Bulgarians Need help to sort through


Jewish Communities of Bulgaria


Nikopol, (Nicopolis)