Komotini Jewish Cemetery
Jewish settlement in Komotini began in the early 16th century, when Jews from Adrianople and Salonika arrived there. Down through the centuries, the community remained predominantly Sephardic. Nathan of Gaza brought renown to Komotini in the 17th century, when he stayed there for awhile and spread the beliefs of Shabbetai Zvi. Jewish settlement was significantly increased in the 1860s. By 1904, the Jewish population numbered 1,200. There were two Jewish schools (one for boys, the other for girls), which were combined in 1910. In 1913, there were 1,290 Jews (of a total population of 381,159). A Jewish Bulgarian association that encouraged Hebrew language and culture opened a branch in Komotini during Bulgarian rule; it had 120 members in 1919. Komotini was annexed by Greece in WWI. The Jewish school was closed temporarily after the war, when the building was needed for refugees. Zionist activity was particularly enthusiastic in the 1920s. The Jewish population in 1928 came to 1,159. Communal welfare and social activity continued and flourished during the 1930s. Prior to WWII, there were 850 Jews in Komotini. In March 1943, the Bulgarians arrested the Jews. Different lists recording their numbers vary from 864 to 878. Most of the Jews were sent to the Treblinka death camp. A few Jews returned to Komotini after the war but the community numbered only 22 in 1948. Over the years the remaining Jews left for Athens, Israel, and the USA.
The exact period of the cemetery’s establishment is unknown, but it can be assumed that it was founded in the 19th century. It was significantly expanded in the 20th century.