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Thessaloniki

The Jewish community of Thessaloniki, the second largest city in Greece, was founded more than 2,000 years ago. After the Expulsion from Spain in 1492, a large percentage of Spanish-speaking Sephardic Jews moved to Thessaloniki. The Nazis, during World War II, occupied Thessaloniki, confined the Jewish population to a ghetto, and sent 96% of the Jewish population to the Nazi concentration camps in Poland.

Meir Gover has written a book, "Thessaloniki Lost Jewish Cemetery," about the Thessaloniki Jewish Cemetery, providing a historical perspective and numerous photographs. He has also compiled a list of 1,200 Jewish names/ 500 headstones/ 31 Synagogues from Thessaloniki in the 16th-17th centuries, from the 300,000-stone Saloniki Jewish Cemetery, destroyed in 1942 by the Greeks. Data assembly and layout: ©2017 by Meir G. Gover from from various sources including the books "Grand Jews of Thessaloniki 1500-1660" ©1936 by I. Emmanuel (c) 1936 Tel Aviv and "Thessaloniki Jewish Cemetery" ©1932 by Michael Molcho of Thessalonik. In 1946, Rabbi Michael Molcho, a chaplain in the U.S. Army, took photographs showing the use of tombstones from the Thessaloniki Jewish Cemetery for construction purposes.



                                          
March, 1516. Thessaloniki ancient Jewish Cemetery.

This early 16th century headstone of Shmuel Elbehar is similar in content to present day headstones. He came to Thessaloniki from town of Bejar. near Madrid.

The headstone is carved on a reused Romaniote era Jewish headstone and is equipped with candle niches for Yahrzeits. 

The headstone reads:

English Translation:                 Hebrew:
This mark                                ציון הלום
is for a brave man                    של איש חיל
most active                              רב פעלים                        
Reb. Shmuel Elbehar                 ר' שמואל אלבהר            
his soul in Eden. Died               נ'ע' נפטר לבית
on the month                            עולמו בחודש 
of Nisan, the year                      ניסן שנת
5284 [March 1516]                   ה'ר'ע'ד' 
May His Soul be Bundled           ת'נ'צ'ב'ה'
with the Living

Photo taken in 2017 by Meir Gover in the Saloniki Archaeological Museum open garden exhibition.

©2017 Meir G. Gover