During the 16th century Komotini absorbed Sephardic Jews from Adrianople and Thessaloniki. Until the 18th century the Jews of Komotini were occupied in the textiles, silk and wool trade, while they excelled in the tobacco industry. The Jewish quarter was next to the city walls and the Synagogue was built in the 18th century in present-day Emperor Theodosius Square. In the early 1900s the Community had 1,200 members. In 1910, an Alliance Israèlite Universelle school opened in Komotini. During the Balkan Wars, the Jewish population decreased and, as a result, many Jews settled in Thessaloniki, Istanbul and elsewhere. The Jews of Komotini lived in harmony and developed friendly ties with their fellow citizens of other faiths. They participated in the cultural life of the city and staged several plays in Greek, like the theatrical plays by Racine “Esther” and “Athalie”.
During World War II Komotini was in the Bulgarian occupation zone. On the night of March 3rd 1943 Bulgarian collaborators of the Nazis arrested the 819 Jews of the city and, like all other Jews of Eastern Macedonia and Thrace, were deported to Treblinka camp, where they were exterminated. Only 28 Jews survived the Holocaust. The Jewish Community of Komotini was officially dissolved in 1958 due to lack of members.
(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”)