In 1526 many Hungarian Jews, whom the Turks have taken as captives when they left Hungary, settled in the town of Kavala, In 1546, a significant number of Jews from Hungary settled in the town of Kavala. According to the 1569 census, 23 Jewish families, 113 Muslim families and 56 Christian ones lived in Kavala. Sephardic Jews arriving from Thessaloniki and other cities in the Ottoman Empire soon absorbed the Ashkenazi Jews. In the second half of the 19th century, Kavala developed into a significant tobacco producing and trading center. As a result, many Jews settled there in search of a better life. In 1885 the Jews built a synagogue and in the early 20th century the Jewish Community of Kavala had over 2,000 members. A Jewish elementary school and a kindergarten functioned under the supervision of the Alliance Israèlite Universelle. The Alliance School provided a high standard of education and was attended by Jewish pupils, as well as Christian and Muslim ones.

In 1941, Kavala became part of the Bulgarian occupational zone. During the Occupation, the properties of the town’s Jews were confiscated, while they were banned from engaging any occupation. The young Jews were sent to forced labour. On March 3rd 1943, the Bulgarian authorities arrested the town’s Jews and locked them in tobacco warehouses. From Kavala they were transferred under terrible conditions, to the port of Lom in Danube were they were taken by the Germans, who immediately deported them to Treblinka extermination camp. Only 42 Jews survived the Holocaust. After liberation, the few who survived the Holocaust tried to rebuild the Jewish community, but their efforts were in vain. The Jewish Community of Kavala was officially dissolved in 1980.

(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”)