BANJA LUKA (Banya Luka), city in northern Bosnia. The earliest reference to a Jewish community dates from 1713, when Jewish merchants of Banja Luka appealed to the French government to appoint one of them French mercantile consul in the town. The community had both a Sephardi and an Ashkenazi synagogue and numbered 226 persons in 1875, 336 in 1895, and 457 in 1927. A joint community center was built in 1936. It was damaged by Allied bombing in 1944. Each congregation had its own rabbi: Menachem Romano for the Sephardim, Pinchas Keller and Mavro Frankfurter for the Ashkenazim. There was some Zionist activity under the leadership of Judah Levy and Hans Bramer. Both synagogues were destroyed during the Holocaust, when most of the local Jews perished.
From the 1990s Banja Luka was the seat of the Republika Srpska (Serbian Republic) as part of the Federation of Bosnia-Herzegovina. A small Jewish community was reestablished.
Jevrejski Almanah, 1–2 (1926–27), index. ADD. BIBLIOGRAPHY: Spomenpca 400 (1966); Y. Eventov, Toledot Yehudei Yugoslavia, vol. I (1971), 97–99; Z. Loker (ed.), Toledot Yehudei Yugoslavia, vol. II (1991), 213–15.
Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.