Jew­ish Saloni­ca: Between the Ottoman Empire and Mod­ern Greece

Devin E. Naar
  • From the Publisher
December 22, 2016

Tout­ed as the Jerusalem of the Balka­ns,” the Mediter­ranean port city of Saloni­ca (Thes­sa­loni­ki) was once home to the largest Sephardic Jew­ish com­mu­ni­ty in the world. The col­lapse of the Ottoman Empire and the city’s incor­po­ra­tion into Greece in 1912 pro­voked a major upheaval that com­pelled Saloni­ca’s Jews to reimag­ine their com­mu­ni­ty and sta­tus as cit­i­zens of a nation-state. Jew­ish Saloni­ca is the first book to tell the sto­ry of this tumul­tuous tran­si­tion through the voic­es and per­spec­tives of Saloni­can Jews as they forged a new place for them­selves in Greek society.

Devin E. Naar trav­eled the globe, from New York to Saloni­ca, Jerusalem, and Moscow, to exca­vate archives once con­fis­cat­ed by the Nazis. Writ­ten in Ladi­no, Greek, French, and Hebrew, these archives, com­bined with local news­pa­pers, reveal how Saloni­ca’s Jews fash­ioned a new hybrid iden­ti­ty as Hel­lenic Jews dur­ing a peri­od marked by ris­ing nation­al­ism and eco­nom­ic cri­sis as well as unprece­dent­ed Jew­ish cul­tur­al and polit­i­cal vibran­cy. Saloni­ca’s Jews — Zion­ists, assim­i­la­tion­ists, and social­ists — rein­vig­o­rat­ed their con­nec­tion to the city and claimed it as their own until the Holo­caust. Through the case of Saloni­ca’s Jews, Naar recov­ers the diverse expe­ri­ences of a lost reli­gious, lin­guis­tic, and nation­al minor­i­ty at the cross­roads of Europe and the Mid­dle East.

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