Serres Jewish Cemetery
Jews were present in Serres as early as the 12th century. In 1453, the Ottomans transferred most of the Jews to Istanbul, where they formed their own congregation. A Romaniot community continued to exist but dwindled from the early 16th century, when an influx of Spanish and Portuguese Jews predominated. The Jewish population in 1520-35 was 325 (of a total population of 5,465). By the end of the century, the Romaniot community no longer existed and a tight-knit Sephardi community was organised. At the end of the 18th century, the community’s only synagogue was destroyed and replaced with a new, magnificent synagogue that seated 2,000. Jewish children received only religious education until the mid-19th century, when a modern Jewish school was opened. By the early 20th century, when the Jewish population peaked at 2,000 (1904), there were a number of social welfare organizations in operation, as well as a library and a club. Prior to the Balkan wars (1912-13) there were some 1,300 Jews in Serres, but by October 1912, the Jewish population had dropped to 988.
After WWI, the 90 Jewish families in Serres left. The Greeks soon reentered Serres and some Jewish families returned with them. The Sephardi community was slowly reestablished, although anti-Jewish sentiments developed amongst the Greeks at that time. In the 1920s, a new synagogue and a new school building were erected. An economic crisis in the early 1930s left many families unemployed. Two charity organizations operated at that time. Prior to WWII, there were around 600 Jews in Serres. In 1943, 471 Jews were arrested. The community was not revived after the war. By 1983, only one Jew remained in Serres.
The exact period of the cemetery’s establishment is unknown. It most likely began active in the 16th century.