Jewish Religious Community

 

The written records on the existence of Jews in Belgrade date back to the XVI century. Researcher believe that Jews were present in Belgrade in earlier centuries, too. The Jews which have lived in the countries of Central Europe carrying with them the influence of German culture and language, called the Ashkenazim, have settled on the bank of the Sava. There is a still active synagogue at No. 19, Maršala Birjuzova Street, built in 1926 by the community of Ashkenazi Jews in Belgrade. In the middle XIX century there has been an old Ashkenazi synagogue which was pulled down during many reconstructions of that part of the city.

The Sephardim were exiled from Spain in 1492 and after that began to settle in the countries of the Mediterranean and in the Ottoman Empire. First of them have come to the territory of Belgrade in the XVI century. Their settlement has been on the bank of the Danube, on Jalija. On the old plans of Belgrade dating from the XVIII century, the Jevrejska (Jewish) Street was entered at the same place where it is today.

Judging by the historical resources, the Belgrade Jewish community has reached its cultural climax during the XVII century, when the yeshiva - Jewish religious school - existed in Belgrade. The rabbis, schoolteachers, have printed their books in Venice, Krakow, Istanbul. There has been an old synagogue near the Jevrejska Street, which was built in the XVII century and reconstructed several times, as well as a ritual bathroom. The Jews have lived in that part of the city until World War I.

Shortly before World War II, about 10,000 Jews lived in Belgrade. Of that number, 80% were the Sephardim, which have used Spanish as spoken language until the XIX century, and 20% were the Ashkenazim, which used Yiddish, a mixture of German and Hebrew. Each of these groups of Jews was organized and had its own community with administration, school, cemetery and various religious, humanitarian, cultural and national societies. Today, in Belgrade, still exists the Baruh Brothers Choir, which was founded as early as 1879 as the Serbian Jewish Singers' Society.

The community of Belgrade Jews has been almost totally destroyed in the Holocaust. Dorćol and almost all synagogues were demolished in the bombing of Belgrade in April 1941. Jewish men were shot in mass executions during September and October 1941. They have been taken from the "Topovske Šupe" concentration camp at Autokomanda. Women and children have been destroyed in the "Sajmište" concentration camp in the period from December 8, 1941 until May 1942. Some of the Belgrade Jews have been killed in the "Banjica" concentration camp. On the Danube bank, where the Jewish settlement used to be, there is now a monument commemorating the Belgrade Jews, made by the sculptor Nandor Glid.

Today, about 2,200 Jews live in Belgrade.

Jewish Commune of Belgrade, Kralja Petra 71a, tel. 2622-449, www.jobeograd.org

Jewish Commune of Zemun, Dubrovačka 21, tel. 195-626, http://joz.rs

Federation of Jewish communes of SCG, Kralja Petra 71a, tel. 2621-837

Jewish Historical Museum, Kralja Petra 71a, tel. 2622-634, www.jimbeograd.org
Working hours: every day except Mondays, 10:00-12:00 AM

Sinagogue, Maršala Birjuzova 19

Jewish cemetery, Mije Kovačevića 1, tel. 768-250

Jewish cemetery, Cara Dušana 32, Zemun