Renee Saltiel i Solon Molho se engrandesieron en la mas grande komunidad sefardi del mundo; la de Salonika o Thessaloniki en la Gresya de oy. En akel tiempo 90,000 Judios bivian ayi ma kuando los Alemanes se yevaron a la populasion Judia a los kampos, ya no kedaron kaji mas dingunos. Solo unos kuantos tornaron. Esta es la istoria de dos Judios ke pudieron sovrebivir grasias a un diplomato Espanyol i unas kuantas famiyas Gregas muy korajozas.
A Sephardic Jew is a Jew descended from, or who follows the customs and traditions of, Jews who lived in the Iberian Peninsula (modern Spain and Portugal) before their expulsion in the late 15th century. The are referred to as Sephardim, as “Sepharad” means Spain in Hebrew. For religious purposes, the term Sephardim also refers to all Jews who use a Sephardic style of liturgy, and therefore includes most Jews of Middle Eastern background, whether or not they have any historical connection to the Iberian Peninsula.
The precise origins of the Jewish communities of the Iberian peninsula are unclear. There is inconclusive evidence of a Jewish presence dating from pre-Roman times. More substantial references date from the Roman period, when significant Jewish immigration probably first occurred.
However, in 1492 the Expulsion Decree (often called „Alhambra Decree“) by King Ferdinand II of Aragon and Queen Isabella of Castile expelled more than 20,000 Spanish Jews from the country. In 1497 King Manuel I of Portugal issued a similar decree. Learn more about the expulsion of the Jewish population from Spain in this article from the Jewish Virtual Library.
Many of the expelled Jews re-settled in the Ottoman Empire, to which the area of Serbia belonged at that time, and where they were welcomed by Sultan Bajazet II. Others settled in places like what is today Morocco, Algeria, southern France and Italy. Some even settled on the island Curacao in the southern Caribbean.
Ladino, or Judeo-Spanish, is the language of Sephardic Jews. It only became a specifically Jewish language after their expulsion from the Iberian Peninsula at the end of the 15th century. Cut off from the further developments in the language, the Sephardim continued to speak it in the communities and countries to which they emigrated. Ladino therefore reflects the grammar and vocabulary of 14th and 15th century Spanish.
In the Sephardic communities of the Ottoman Empire, the language not only retained the older forms of Spanish, but borrowed so many words from Hebrew, Arabic, Greek, Turkish, and even French, that it became more and more distorted.
Like other historical Jewish languages, Ladino is in danger of language extinction (another prominent example is Yiddish). Most native speakers are elderly, many of them having emigrated to Israel where the language was not transmitted to their children or grandchildren. However, it is experiencing a minor revival among Sephardic communities, for example in music.
Ladino is also spoken by the Jewish minority in Turkey. “El Amaneser” is a monthly Ladino-language supplement of the Turkish newspaper "Salom" that publishes articles on Sephardic culture. Read more about El Amaneser in this article from the Istanbul Sephardic Center.
In the film, Nina mentions the first anti-Semitic riots in Salonika which took place on June 29, 1931 and became known as the Campbell riots.
During the Campbell riots, Greek mobs belonging to the nationalist anti-Semitic party EEE (National Union of Greece) attacked the mainly Jewish neighborhood Campbell and burned it to the ground. As a result of these riots, between 200 and 500 Jewish families emigrated from Greece and left for Palestine. During the 30s, 30,000 Jews would follow them, leaving around 56,000 Jews behind in Salonika.
Read an article from July 7, 1931 describing the destroyed Jewish neighborhood.
This Centropa film was sponsored by the Jewish Museum in Berlin and produced in cooperation with the Jewish Museum in Thessaloniki, which was established to honor the city's rich Sephardic heritage since the 15th century.
The website of the Jewish Museum in Thessaloniki offers a lot of information on the diverse Jewish history and culture of Thessaloniki.
While we highly recommend their website in general, we would like to recommend two articles in particular:
"The Jews of Thessaloniki" by Dr. Yakov Benmayor offers a historical overview of the Jewish presence in Salonika.
"The Jews of the Balkans. Salonica 1856-1919" by Dr. Rena Molho.
"The Jewish Necropolis" talks about the importance of Thessaloniki`s former Jewish cemetery.
Nina talks about the populations exchange between Turkey and Greece in 1923 which radically changed the demographics of Greece and Salonika.
"The Convention concerning the Exchange of Greek and Turkish Populations" was an agreement between the Greek and Turkish government, signed on January 30, 1923 in Lausanne in the aftermath of the Greco-Turkish War of 1919-1922. The agreement was based on religious identity and provided simultaneous expulsion of the Christians from Turkey to Greece and the Muslims from Greece to Turkey. 2 million people were affected by this agreement and as a result became refugees and denaturalized from their homelands.
For more information on the refugees and the effects of the Convention, read this report by the International Committee of the Red Cross.
For the original and complete text of the "Convention concerning the Exchange of Greek and Turkish Populations and Protocol, signed at Lausanne, January 30, 1923", click here.