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Didymoteikhon

DIDYMOTEIKHON

DIDYMOTEIKHON (Didumotica, Demotika ), city in W. Thrace, Greece. Dating from the Middle Ages, there was a *Romaniot synagogue in Constantinople named for the Jews of Demotikan origin. The oldest tombstone in the Jewish cemetery dates from 1456. The local Jews spoke Judeo-Spanish and maintained close relations with the Sephardi communities of nearby Edirne, Sofia, and Istanbul. In halakhic matters, the Jews were under the rabbinic authority of Edirne. In 1821, at the beginning of the Greek Revolution, there were several dozen Jewish families there. In 1897 an Alliance Israélite Universelle school was established, operating until the mid-1920s. When the Bulgarians captured the city on October 30, 1912, much Jewish property, including stores, were damaged. The economy deteriorated and the Turks captured the city on July 13, 1913. During World War i sovereignty returned to the Bulgarians, who ruled until 1919, when in accordance with the Neuilly Treaty the city came under Greek sovereignty. In about 1920, there were 900 Jews in Didymoteikhon out of a general population of 12,000. They included exporters of grains, silks, cheese, and wool, as well as small grocers. In 1920, the Solidarity youth group of school graduates was formed as an intellectual group and Zionist activity was held at the Cercle Israélite club. In 1922, a branch of B'nai B'rith was founded. In 1934–35,the later noted Athenian Rabbi Eli Barzilai was principal of the Jewish school and French was taught until 1936 when foreign language instruction was banned by dictator Ioannis Metaxas. In 1940 there were 1,000 Jews in Didymoteikhon, of whom 970 were deported during the Holocaust. In 1948, 38 Jews remained in the city, and in 1967, 21.

bibliography:

N. Leven, Cinquante ans d'histoire …, 2 (1920), 171–4; A. Galanté, Les Synagogues d'Istanbul (1937), 7, 10; J. Nehama, in: M. Molho (ed.), In Memoriam, 2 (1949), 164. add. bibliography: B. Rivlin (ed.), Pinkas Kehillot Yavan (1999), 86–92.

[Simon Marcus /

Yitzchak Kerem (2nd ed.)]

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