KYUSTENDIL , town in W. Bulgaria. In the 16th century this town had a small Jewish community. In 1878 when Bulgaria gained its independence, the community numbered 853 and grew steadily. They were artisans, merchants, porters, etc. The merchants among them dealt in plums, wool, butter, and tobacco. The local synagogue was built in 1863. In 1874 a *blood libel against the Jews spread, when a Christian child was missing; there were also anti-Jewish riots in 1901 for the same reason. The 1935 census gave the number of Jews as 853, while the 1943 census listed 980 Jews. The community did not suffer severely during World War ii. The 1943 expulsion decree from Bulgaria was not carried out. In 2004 there was a community of around 90 Jews affiliated with the local branch of the nationwide Shalom organization.
S. Mézan, Les juifs espagnols en Bulgarie (1925), passim.
[Simon Marcus /
Emil Kalo (2nd ed.)]