PHLORINA


PHLORINA (formerly Florina), city in Greek Macedonia, near the former Yugoslav border. In the 17th and 18th centuries there was a Jewish community in Phlorina, of which little is known. In the 17th century Phlorina had a Sephardi community whose members maintained economic relations with Salonika, Kastoria, and Karditza. At the end of the 18th century, Rabbi Joseph Baruch stood at the head of the community and consulted with Rabbi Yitzhak Samuel of Salonika on halakhic matters. It is not known when the Jewish community ceased to exist. The community was reestablished in 1912. In that year many Jews from Monastir migrated to Phlorina. Additional Jews arrived in World War I, especially when Monastir was under siege in 1916/17. In sum, some 60 families from Monastir established themselves in Phlorina, and Baruch Kamhi, a butcher from Monastir, became community president.. In 1914, the Phlorina Jewish community numbered 100 families. In 1917 a Jewish school was established. At the beginning of the 1920s, the Jewish community turned to Salonikan Chief Rabbi Ben Zion Meir Ḥai *Ouziel, who, together with other influential Jews in Salonika, influenced the Ministry of National Economy to change the market day from Saturday to Wednesday, but in Phlorina the local Greek-Orthodox population ignored the ruling. In 1921–22, local Muslims and Greek-Orthodox attacked the Jews over this issue. The events were covered in the world and Jewish press. In 1923, while many Jewish merchants began working on the Sabbath; others were prompted to emigrate. In 1924–25, the Greek government banned work on Sunday and the Jews of Phlorina were further pressed to earn a living. Only some 50 families remained, with most leaving for Monastir. The Jews were merchants, dealers in old clothes, greengrocers, cobblers, etc. In the mid-1920s, the local Zionist organization, Achdut B'nai Zion, was formed and in the 1930s the Theodor Herzl Club was active. Blood libels erupted annually at Easter time from 1925 to 1927. Three local Jews fell in the Greek army in the Albanian campaign against the invading Italians in late 1940–early 1941. In 1940 there were 400 Jews in Phlorina; 372 of them were deported by the Nazis. On April 30, 1943, the Jews were arrested, sent to Salonika, and from there by train to their deaths in Birkenau, where they arrived in mid-May 1943. Some 60–70 Jews had fled previously, in early 1943, to the nearby mountains, and several Jews fought in the resistance. In 1948 the number of Jews was 64, and in 1958 it was seven. Small enclaves of Phlorina Jews concentrated in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem; Brooklyn, New York; and Sao Paulo, Brazil. An annual ceremony for the community's Holocaust victims is conducted at the Cave of the Martyrs on Mount Zion, Jerusalem.

BIBLIOGRAPHY:

J. Angel, in: Almanakh Izraelit (Ladino, 1923), 79–80; Rosanes, Togarmah, 4 (1935), 267–8; M. Molho and J. Nehama (eds.), In Memoriam, 1 (1948), 106–7, and passim; idem, Sho'at Yehudei Yavan 1941–1944 (1965), index. ADD. BIBLIOGRAPHY: Y. Kerem, "Florina," in: Pinkas ha-Kehillot Yavan (1999), 319–22.

[Simon Marcus /

Yitzchak Kerem (2nd ed.)]


Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.