History of the Jews in Slovenia

History of the Jews in Slovenia

The small Jewish community of Slovenia ( _sl. Judovska skupnost Slovenije) is estimated at 400 to 600 members Fact|date=May 2007, with most living in the capital, Ljubljana. The Jewish community was devastated by the Shoah, and has never fully recovered. Until 2003, Ljubljana was the only European capital city without a Jewish place of worship [ [http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/vjw/slovenia.html Jewish Virtual Library - Slovenia] ] .

History of the community

Ancient community

The Jewish community of Slovenia pre-dates the 6th century Slavic migration to the Slovene Lands [Jews of Yugoslavia 1941-1945 Victims of Genocide and Freedom Fighters, Jasa Romano] , [Slovenia] . The first Jews arrived in Slovenia in Roman times, with archaeological evidence of Jews found in Maribor and Škocjan. In Škocjan, an engraved menorah dating from the 5th century AD was found in a graveyard. [ [http://www.centropa.org/reports.asp?rep=HR&ID=5960&TypeID=36658 Excerpts from Jews in Yugoslavia - Part I] ]

In the 12th century, Jews arrived in the Slovene Lands fleeing poverty in Italy and central Europe. Even though they were forced to live in ghettos, many Jews prospered. Relations between Jews and Slovenes were generally peaceful. In Maribor, Jews were successful bankers, winegrowers and millers. Several "Jewish Courts" ("judovsko sodišče") existed in Styria, though not in Carniola or Carinthia, settling disputes between Jews and Christians. Israel Isserlein, who authored several essays on medieval Jewish life in Slovenia, was the most important rabbi at the time, having lived in Maribor. [ V. Travner, Mariborski ghetto, Kronika 2, 1935, pp. 154-150. ] In 1397, Jewish ghettos in Radgona and Ptuj were set ablaze by a secret society called "Ungenannte Judenhauer". [ Enciklopedija Slovenije, 4. Zvezek, 1990, p. 315. ] (The name, translated from German, means "Anonymous Jew-beaters")

The first synagogue in Ljubljana is mentioned in 1213. Issued with a "Privilegium", Jews were able to settle an area of Ljubljana located on the left bank of the Ljubljanica River. The streets "Židovska ulica" (“Jewish Street”) and "Židovska steza" (“Jewish Lane”), which now occupy the area, are still reminiscent of that period. The wealth of the Jews bred resentment among the rulers and nobility of the Slovenian Lands, with many refusing to repay Jewish money-lenders. Individual regions began expelling their Jews already in the 16th century, with the last Jews expelled by 1718. [ [http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/vjw/slovenia.html Jewish Virtual Library - Slovenia] ]

The modern era

In 1709 Charles VI, Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire (and ruler of the Slovenian Lands), issued a decree allowing Jews to return to the Slovenian Lands. Nevertheless, Jews in that time settled almost exlusively in the commercial city of Trieste and, to a much smaller extent, in the town of Gorica, which are now both part of Italy. The decree was overturned in 1817 by Francis I, and Jews were granted full civil and political right only with the Austro-Hungarian constitution of 1867. Nevertheless, the Slovenian Lands remained virtually without a consistent Jewish population, with the exception of Gorizia, Trieste, the region of Prekmurje and some smaller towns in the western part of the County of Gorizia and Gradisca (Gradisca, Cervignano), which were inhabited mostly by a Friulian-speaking population. According to the census of 1910, only 146 Jews lived in the territory of modern Slovenia, excluding the Prekmurje region. [ [http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/vjw/slovenia.html Jewish Virtual Library - Slovenia] ]

Rampant anti-Semitism was among the causes why few Jews decided to settle in the area, maintaining the overall Jewish population at a very low level. In the 1920s, After the formation of the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes (Yugoslavia), the local Jewish community merged with the Jewish community of Zagreb, Croatia. [ [http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/vjw/slovenia.html Jewish Virtual Library - Slovenia] ]

According to the 1931 census, there were about 900 Jews in the Drava Banovina, mostly concentrated in Prekmurje, which used to be part of the Kingdom of Hungary until 1919. This was the reason why in the mid 1930s Murska Sobota became the seat of the Jewish Community of Slovenia. During that period, the Jewish population was reinvigorated by many immigrants fleeing from neighouring Austria and Nazi Germany to a more tolerant Kingdom of Yugoslavia. Nevertheless, the anti-Jewish legislation, adopted by Milan Stojadinović's pro-German regime and the anti-semitic discourse of Anton Korošec's Slovenian People's Party, made Slovenia a less desirable destination.

The number of Jews prior to the Axis invasion of Yugoslavia in April 1941 is estimated to around 2,500.

The Holocaust

The Jewish community, very small even before World War II and the Shoah, was further reduced by the Nazis occupation between 1941 and 1945.

Post-war community

Under Communism in Yugoslavia, the Jewish community in Socialist Slovenia numbered fewer than 100 members. In 1953, the synagogue of Murska Sobota, the only remaining after the Shoah, was demolished by the local Communist authorities. Many Jews were expelled from Yugoslavia as "Germans" and most of Jewish property was confiscated. The "Judovska Občina v Ljubljani" (Jewish Community of Ljubljana) was officially reformed following World War II; its first president was Artur Kon, followed by Aleksandar Švarc in 1957, followed by Roza Fertig-Švarc in 1988. In 1969, it numbered only 84 members and its membership was declining due to emigration and age. Berta Bojetu, Miriam Steiner ("Vojak z zlatimi gumbi") and Zlate Medic-Vokač ("Marpurgi") were Jewish authors who wrote in Slovene. [ Enciklopedija Slovenije ]


The Jewish community today is estimated at 400-600 members [ [http://www.jewishcommunity.si/ENG-jss.asp Jewish Community of Slovenia - Demographic Overview] ] , although there are only 130 members of the Jewish Community of Slovenia. The community is mixed Ashkenazi and Sephardi descent. In 1999, the first ever Chief Rabbi for Slovenia was appointed after 1941. Before religious service was provided with help from community of Zagreb. The present chief rabbi for Slovenia, Ariel Haddad, resides in Trieste and is a member of the Lubavitcher Hassidic school. [ [http://www.jewishcommunity.si/jss/SLO-rabin.asp The Jewish Community of Slovenia] ] The current president of the Jewish Community of Slovenia is Andrej Kožar Beck.

Famous Jews from Slovenia

* Mišo Alkalaj, Computer scientist, writer and journalist
* Katja Boh, Sociologist and politician
* Berta Bojetu, Writer and poet
* Israel Isserlin, Medieval rabbi from Maribor
* Klemen Jeninčič Boeta, Anthropologist, philologist, translator
* Ana Jud, Journalist
* Pavle Kornhauser, Pediatrician
* Lev Kreft, Philosopher and politician
* Paul Parin, Psychoanalist
* Hannah Starman, Scholar
* Dušan Šarotar, Writer
* Mladen Aleksander Švarc, Philosopher, Journalist and political activist

See also

*Jewish Community of Trieste

Notes and references

* [http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/vjw/slovenia.html Jewish Virtual Library - Slovenia, Stephanie Persin]
* [http://www.isjm.org/jhr/IInos1-2/slovenia.htm Jewish Monuments in Slovenia]
* [http://www.centropa.org/reports.asp?rep=HR&ID=5960&TypeID=36658 Excerpts from Jews in Yugoslavia - Part I]
* [http://www.jewishcommunity.si/ENG-jss.asp Demographic Overview, Jewish Community of Slovenia]

External links

* sl icon [http://www.jewishcommunity.si/ Jewish Community of Slovenia]

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