In the 12th century, Rabbi Benjamin of Tudela visited the town and found 140 families living in harmony with the local inhabitants. The Jewish Community of Drama grew significantly larger with the arrival of Sephardic and Hungarian Jews. In the late 19th and early 20th century, the settlement of Jews in Drama was associated with the development of the tobacco industry. Tobacco companies in the region, such as Jewish owned Commercial and Herzog, attracted multi-ethnic groups, including many Jews from various parts of the Ottoman Empire, like Thessaloniki and Serres. After the Balkan Wars, the Jewish Community of Drama grew steadily. The Community had a Synagogue, two cemeteries and, after 1925, a school. By that time the Community numbered 1200 people, settled mainly in the area of Agia Barbara.

In March 1943, all Jews living in the Bulgarian Occupied Zone were arrested. The 592 Jews left in Drama were gathered at the Tobacco Monopoly building and later deported to Treblinka. In 1948, only 39 Jews returned to Drama. In 1999 the Municipality of Drama, the Administrative Board of the Jewish Community of Kavala and the Central Board of Jewish Communities in Greece erected a Memorial for the Jewish Martyrs of the Holocaust in Agia Barbara Park. This memorial and the Jewish cemetery are the only remaining evidence of there ever having been a Jewish presence in Drama.

(The contect is part of the Jewish Museum’s of Greece digital multimedia app The Jews of Greece: 2,300 Years of History and Tradition”)