VEROIA Print
Wednesday, 01 July 2009 09:24

THE JEWISH COMMUNITY OF VEROIA

    The Jewish presence in Veroia dates back to the Roman era. During that period (50 or 51 and 57 A.D. ) Epistle Paul visited the city and preached in the synagogue. Although no specific information is available, it is likely that a small Jewish Community existed in Veroia in the Roman and Byzantine period. By the end of the 15th century this community grew due to the arrival of numerous Jews from Spain and Portugal.
    The Jewish community of Veroia always kept strong ties with the neighbouring large communities of Thessaloniki and Monastir. The Turkish traveller Evlijah Tselebi who visited the city in 1668 mentions this. In addition, the German historian A. Stuck, who travelled through Veroia in the beginning of the 20th century, makes mention of 600 Spanish Jews. In 1943, 850 Jews lived in Veroia; 680 out of them were deported by the Nazi occupiers and exterminated in the death camp of Auschwitz - Birkenau. Today two Jewish families live in Veroia.

The Jewish quarter of Veroia

    Barbouta, the Jewish quarter of Veroia, is located near Tripotamos River in the western part of the city. The Jews probably lived there since the time of Epistle Paul. It is closed and isolated and its structure is clearly defensive. The steep slope and tall houses form a natural boundary for the quarter on the side facing the river. The exterior facades of the block of buildings complete this isolation on the other sides. The houses are built next to each other, forming a closed triangle. The only openings are an arcade underneath the houses on Merarhias Street leading to the Synagogue, and one more opening exactly opposite. Today about fifty old houses of Macedonian architecture are preserved. Some of them still bear signposts in Hebrew. The traditional houses of the Jewish quarter and the synagogue were repaired and brought to the fore in 1997 in the framework of a special program of the Municipality of Veroia, supported by Jewish Organizations.
    The Jewish cemetery was on the west bank of Tripotamos River, opposite Barbouta, 500 meters away. This is an interesting case because we encounter the traditional phenomenon where the quarter and the cemetery are separated by a steam of water.

The Synagogue

    The Synagogue is north west inside the Jewish quarter, next to the bank of Tripotamos River. It was built or repaired from its foundation in 1850 after the Sultan's decree (firman). It bears architectural features copied from older small synagogues of Thessaloniki. Four pillars at the center determine the Bimah (Tevah), and the Sanctuary (Echal) is against the eastern wall. The floor is made of wooden planks and the center is decorated with mosaic decorative tiles. The mikveh (ritual religious bath) is still preserved behind the Synagogue.



   

Traditional houses of the Jewish quarter "Barbouta".




   

Exterior view of the Synagogue of Veroia.