Kavala Old Jewish Cemetery
Jewish settlement in Kavala began in the 16th century, when the ruling Ottomans transferred Jews from Budapest to Kavala. In the 1540s, there were more than 500 Jews in Kavala. The Ashkenazi community flourished in the first half of the century, but then refugees from the Spanish and Portuguese expulsions arrived and a Sephardi community predominated. By the late 17th century, there were 4 synagogues. In 1740, the community had dwindled to only a few families; the community remained at this level throughout the 19th century. After the mid-19th century, Kavala’s trade in tobacco and other products improved, leading to more Jews settling there, primarily from Salonika, Monastir (Bitola), Seres, and Istanbul. Between 1880 and 1900, the community grew from 24 Jewish families to 230 (over 1,000 individuals). In the following years, the community organised and operated a school and multiple social welfare organisations. In 1905, a new school for boys and girls was built with the assistance of the Alliance Israelite Universelle. By 1912, the Jews numbered 2,350. In July 1913, the Greeks occupied Kavala. A highly active Zionists organisation was established that year. In 1921, the Jewish community peaked at 2,500 members, the majority of whom worked in the thriving tobacco industry. According to the 1928 census, Kavala was the third largest Jewish community in Greece (2,135 Jews), after Salonika and Athens. The Jewish population in 1940 was 2,100. From 1941-42, hundreds of youths and men were taken to act as forced labor in Bulgaria. A lack of food, clothing, and medical supplies led to epidemics in the harsh winter of 1942-43. On 3rd-4th March 1943, 1,484 Jews from Kavala were deported to the Treblinka death camp via Drama and Bulgaria. A few survivors returned to Kavala and in 1945 there were 42 Jews. The community was reestablished, but was dismantled in 1970. The last Jewish family left in 1979.
Most likely, the period of the cemetery’s establishment dates to the 16th century. In 1934, the Ist-Dimarnd, honorary President of the community, donated $5,000 to the community. $1,000 was allocated to the cemetery (for reference, the school received $500).