Jewish Community Of Monastir: A Community In Flux / The Holocaust In Macedonia: Deportation Of Monastir Jewry

Our Mission Statement

Ladino, noble language
In which we lamented Zion,
And mourned the loss of Spain,
Land of our consolation.

–Miguel de Unamuno (1928)

For nearly 40 years the Foundation has been dedicated to preserving and promoting the complex and centuries-old culture of the Sephardic communities of Turkey, Greece, the Balkans, Europe and the U.S. Emigration, and the devastation of the Holocaust, have combined to weaken historic communities which had resisted assimilation, where Ladino, the Sephardic language, was used continuously and unique cultural traditions were practiced.

As the new millennia opens, the Foundation seeks to vigorously renew and preserve the heritage and culture of our ancestors.

Please support the Foundation as it enters this new era of Sephardic studies. Your interest and contributions are critical and will enable the continued growth of Sephardic scholarship and education, and will ensure the future of an institution that has helped keep alive our vibrant Sephardic history.

Although few Jews live in Bulgaria today, this has long been an almost purely Sephardic community with only a few Ashkenazi and Romaniote families.

Between 2001 and 2008, Centropa interviewed 108 elderly Jews in Sofia, Plovdiv and Ruse, and while you can read their biographies and see their photos on this Sephardic page, as well as here. This slide show is comprised of photos we found especially compelling, and as you will notice, many of these people are dressed in traditional Sephardic costume.

If you have any old Sephardic photos of your own you'd like to share with us, click on this link so you can upload your family pictures and stories.

Jewish Community Of Monastir: A Community In Flux
Mark Cohen, Greece

Author the highly acclaimed Last Century of a Sephardic Community: The Jews of Monastir, Mark Cohen shares with us his reasons for writing this book: chiefly, that he didn't think he'd live to see its completion. We're happy to say that he did, and this personal essay, full of irony and self-deprecating humor, Mark will take you along on this rather bumpy voyage of self-discovery

Jewish Community Of Monastir: A Community In Flux Although Jews had lived in Monastir from Roman times, the Sephardic Jews, who originally migrated from the Iberian Peninsula in the fifteenth century, became the predominant group in the town by the sixteenth century. 
They maintained a highly traditional and distinctive lifestyle characterized by residence in a Jewish quarter, attachment to the Judeo-Spanish (Ladino) language and Sephardic folklore, commitment to Jewish religious observance, and allegiance to Jewish communal institutions including synagogues, religious schools, religious courts, and mutual aid societies. 
In 1863, after a fire destroyed much of the Jewish quarter, the community turned to the Jewish world's leading philanthropist, England's Sir Moses Montefiore, for assistance in reconstruction. 
This appeal to the West marked the beginning of the Sephardic community's reorientation toward European culture and the gradual introduction of secular education and values into the population. These changes took place at the same time as new transportation links to Salonika expanded trade and brought economic prosperity to the Monastir Jewish community. 
This period of cultural and economic development was cut short by political upheavals in the region, beginning in 1903 with the Macedonian rebellion against the Turkish rulers of the Ottoman Empire. 
Ethnic violence among Greeks, Serbs, and Bulgarians over the future of Macedonia exposed Monastir to political violence and economic disruption throughout the first decade of the twentieth century. 
As a result, thousands of Jewish Monastirlis (as the locals referred to themselves) emigrated to North and South America, Jerusalem, and the Sephardic metropolis of Salonika. After the end of the Second Balkan War in 1913, formerly Ottoman Macedonia was carved up among Serbia, Bulgaria, and Greece. 
Monastir, then renamed Bitola, was in the territory incorporated by Serbia. However, the Jewish community continued to call the city by the name it bore during centuries of Ottoman rule: Monastir. At the turn of the twentieth century, Monastir's Jewish population reached nearly 11,000, but by 1914 years of emigration had reduced the community to just over 6,000. During World War I, Monastir suffered two invasions and two years of bombardment. More than 5,000 Monastir Jews fled their homes and lived as refugees in the surrounding area. 
When the war was over, Monastir's Jews numbered just over 3,000. Bitola became part of the new state of Yugoslavia, and in the 1920s and 1930s Zionism emerged as the dominant force among the local Jewish youth. During those years, 500 of these young men and women emigrated to Palestine. 
The final chapter in the history of the Monastir Jewish community came in 1941, when the Germans invaded Yugoslavia and Germany's ally, Bulgaria, once again occupied Macedonia. After they systematically despoiled and ghettoized the Jews of Monastir, the Bulgarian authorities transported the entire Jewish community to a transit camp at the Monopol tobacco warehouse in Skopje. 
From there, the Monastir Jews were deported to Treblinka between March 22 and March 29, 1943. Not one of the 3,276 Monastir Jews deported to Treblinka survived. A few dozen Monastirlis had managed to avoid deportation, and four escaped from the Monopol camp. Today, just one Jew remains in the city that was home to a Sephardic community for more than 400 years.

The Holocaust In Macedonia: Deportation Of Monastir Jewry
Mark Cohen

     In 1941, some 78,000 Jews lived in Yugoslavia, including about 4,000 foreign or stateless Jews who had found refuge in the country during the 1930s. Although Yugoslavia had reluctantly joined the Axis alliance with Germany, the Yugoslav government was toppled by an anti-German military coup on March 27, 1941. Nazi Germany invaded the Balkan nations of Yugoslavia and Greece in early April 1941. Supported militarily by her Axis allies (Italy, Bulgaria, Hungary, and Romania), Germany quickly subdued the Balkans. Yugoslavia was partitioned among the Axis allies. Bulgaria annexed Yugoslav Macedonia (the area including the cities of Skopje and Bitola in southern Yugoslavia).
On October 4, 1941, the Bulgarians enforced an extraordinary measure that prohibited the Jews of Macedonia from engaging in any type of industry or commerce. All existing Jewish businesses had three months to transfer ownership to non-Jews or sell their assets and close down. In addition, a law that barred Jews from certain areas of town was enforced in Monastir in late 1941. Jews who lived in the more prosperous part of Monastir, located on the east side of the Dragor River, were forced to move to a poorer part of town located near the traditional Jewish quarter on the west side, and this area became the ghetto.     

     With Monastir's Jews forced into a ghetto and registered, it became easier to carry out the theft of their property. On July 2, 1942, the Bulgarian government demanded that all Jewish households hand over 20 percent of the value of all assets, including property, furniture, cash, and household items. Committees were established to assess the value of the Jews' property. The possessions of those who did not have the money to pay the tax were sold at auction.
All of these degrading, restrictive measures halted normal Jewish life in Monastir. Zamila Kolonomos, a local Jewish woman, lived through these years of occupation in Monastir. She wrote, "Ansina la vida si truko i no avia mas ni enkontros, ni fiestar, ni bodas, ni aligrias" (Thus life was so greatly changed and there were no more get-togethers, no festivals, no weddings, no celebrations).     

     Though allied with the Germans, the Bulgarian government refused to deport Jews residing in Bulgaria proper. Bulgarian authorities did, however, deport Jews without Bulgarian citizenship from the territories of Yugoslavia and Greece which Bulgaria occupied. They deported the Macedonian Jews in simultaneous actions that began in the early morning of Thursday, March 11, 1943. In Monastir, Skopje, and Å tip, where there was a tiny population of Sephardic Jews, several hundred police and soldiers, as well as cart drivers with their carts, gathered at municipal police stations at 2 a.m. to receive instructions for the removal of the Jews and their belongings. In Monastir, the Bulgarian military established a blockade around the city to prevent escapes.     

     Between 5 and 6 a.m., groups fanned out into the ghetto to bang on doors and order the residents to leave their homes in one hour. The Jews were told that they were being transferred to other parts of Bulgaria and that after the war they would be returned to their homes, but this did little to ease the terror and confusion of this massive eviction. Advance rumors of this action convinced Kolonomos to hide, and that night she and four others sat in a windowless room in a shop and listened to what was happening to their community. Kolonomos wrote,
    At dawn we heard the uproar of groups of police. In a moment there was the sound of horses' footsteps and the noise of carts. Then all was calm. Then came a noise like thunder.We asked each other what it could be? Then we were able to discern the sound of voices, shouts, the crying of many people, of babies, of women! We were able to distinguish the words of the Bulgarians who shouted: 'Quickly! Quickly!' The prayers, moans, curses, the crying was clear¦ They were taking all the Jews, old and young, not just the youths who could work. A river of people passed alongside us.
    At around 7 a.m. the Jews were forced to walk to the railroad station, where a train was waiting to take them away to neighboring Skopje; a temporary detention center had been established at the state tobacco monopoly warehouse known as Monopol. The Monopol was chosen for its ability to hold thousands of people, and also because it was served by a railroad. Albert Sarfati survived the war, and he gave this eyewitness account:
They loaded us into cattle wagons, fifty to sixty people per wagon, including luggage. There wasn't enough space and many had to stand. There was no water. The children were crying. A woman in one wagon was giving birth¦ but there was no doctor. We reached Skopje at midnight. Night. Darkness. They opened the wagons and in the darkness pushed us into two large buildings. Cars carrying the Jews from Shtip had been added to our train. Stumbling over one another in the darkness, dragging our luggage and continuously being beaten by the Bulgarian soldiers, the children, the aged and infirm tried to squeeze into the building. When the sun rose, we realized we were in Skopje in the building of the Monopoly, and that all the Jews of Macedonia had been rounded up that same day.
    For the next 11 days the Monastir Jews, together with Jews from Skopje and Å tip, approximately 7,215 in all, lived in crowded, filthy conditions in four warehouses at Monopol. The weather was cold, there was little food and few blankets, and the Jews were continually searched, beaten, and humiliated. Women and girls were raped. Elena Leon Ishakh, a doctor from Monastir who was released from Monopol to work for the Bulgarians, survived the war and left this description of the Monopol:
Hunger pervaded¦ Only on the fifth day did the camp authorities set up a kitchen, but for over 7,000 of us there were too few stoves. Food was doled out starting at eleven in the morning, and the last ones were fed around five in the evening. Food was distributed once daily and consisted of 250 grams of bread and plain, watery beans or rice¦ They also gave us smoked meat, but it was so bad that, despite our hunger, we couldn't eat it¦ Under the pretext of searching us to find hidden money, gold, or foreign currency, they sadistically forced us to undress entirely¦ In some cases they even took away baby diapers¦ If anything was found on somebody, he was beaten¦.
Nico Pardo was one of the few who managed to escape from the Skopje detention center and after the war he described the Jews' despair in Monopol:
We were in a terrible mood. The youngsters tried to sing every so often, but the adults and the elderly people were in deep depression. We did not know what awaited us, but the dreadful treatment we received from the Bulgarians showed the value of the promises given us that we would only be taken to a Bulgarian work camp. Here and there youngsters whispered of the possibility of an uprising and a mass escape, but they never materialized. There was no prospect of it succeeding. The yard was surrounded by a wooden fence and behind that a barbed wire fence. At each of the four corners there was a sentry with a machine gun and other armed guards would patrol the yard. Also, the belief that the worst possible fate did not await us prevented such suicidal acts from taking place.
    Three railroad transports took the Macedonian Jews from Monopol to Treblinka. The journey typically took six days, and during this time the Jews were locked in cattle or freight cars. Several Jews died during each transport, and the living had to endure the presence of corpses. On the morning of March 22, 1943, some 2,300 Macedonian Jews from Monopol were forced to board a train consisting of 40 cattle cars. Families journeyed together, and the transport included at least 134 small children no more than four years old, and at least 194 children between the ages of four and 10. The train arrived at Treblinka six days later on March 28 at 7 a.m. Four people died on this transport. The overwhelming majority of these Jews were from Skopje.
On March 25, German and Bulgarian soldiers loaded about 2,400 Macedonian Jews onto a train made up of freight cars. All the Jews from Å tip, who numbered 551, were on this second transport, as were about 2,000 Jews from Skopje and Monastir. Sarfati was scheduled to board the third transport, and he watched the Jews board this second train:
Each wagon carried between 60 and 70 people with all their baggage. The people came out of the building carrying their belongings on their backs. Everyone was carrying things, from the oldest person to the youngest. With bowed heads, all approached the black train. In front of each wagon stood a German and a Bulgarian policeman checking off a list. It was impossible to sit down in the freight cars. As soon as the 'livestock' had been loaded into a car, it was locked and sealed. Only heads were visible through the small windows¦ Those of us in the building were not permitted to watch, and the police waved their machine guns toward our windows to keep us from watching. The train was ready and left about eleven o'clock. Hands were waving goodbye from the small wagon windows and all of us in the building were shedding tears.
The last train carried around 2,400 Jews, approximately 2,300 of whom were from Monastir. The Jews began boarding the freight cars at 6 a.m. on March 29 and by noon the train was full. The departure of this train for the killing center at Treblinka signaled the final destruction of the Monastir Jewish community.


What Can We Learn From This Story? A Personal History Lesson
Mark Cohen, Bulgaria 

Author the highly acclaimed Last Century of a Sephardic Community: The Jews of Monastir, Mark Cohen shares with us his reasons for writing this book: chiefly, that he didn't think he'd live to see its completion.  We're happy to say that he did, and this personal essay, full of irony and self-deprecating humor, Mark will take you along on this rather bumpy voyage of self-discovery. 

What Can We Learn From This Story?  A Personal History Lesson

    A few years ago there was a movie about a little boy who had an ability that gave people the creeps.  As the boy said in the coming attractions, œI see dead people.�  Well, I can beat that.  I spent seven years in the company of dead people.   I read their mail, went through their wardrobes, listened to their songs, visited their schools, and laughed at their dirty jokes.  And that's what drew me to write my book about the Sephardic Jews of Monastir.  It was an attachment to the dead.  To write history is to spend a lot of time with the dead.  That was fine with me.  I had been thinking a lot about them anyway.
    I started my book in 1998 after cancer surgery, but it is not fair to blame my cancer for my morbid frame of mind.  Once you've had cancer, you want to blame it for everything.  And who's going to stop you?  With a bad malignancy you can bully anyone.  Speak softly and carry a big tumor.  
But I had already had a long training in thinking about the dead.  Growing up in New York in the 1960s, a whole cast of dead people populated my world.  My father filled my head with the Sephardic characters from his childhood world of the 1930s.  Those people had themselves been born at the end of the 19th century.      What for some people seemed the distant past always seemed near at hand to me.
There was Bachor, the energetic owner of a dress shop, who was the legendary first born of 16 children.  And Stamula, who taught my dad how to swallow a pill by reaching into the medicine cabinet and taking whatever was nearest.  And in my own childhood there were the Sephardic anos, or yahrzeits, when my extended family would gather at synagogue to hear the names of people long dead.  Afterward the family would eat lunch together.  And my father once told me that at anos in the 1930s the Sephardim would eat lunch in the cemetery.  So I was shocked but not surprised when, in my research, I learned that the writer Rebecca West visited Monastir in 1937 and saw something that touched her deeply:  œa peasant woman sitting on a grave ¦ with a dish of wheat and milk on her lap.�  
So I was heir to a tradition of being close to the dead.  And didn't my favorite author, Saul Bellow, say the living and the dead form one community?  And didn't I owe these dead something for the entertainment they provided me?  And didn't they try to help me when I was sick?  My father visited his parents' grave and asked for help, which used to be a common Jewish practice.  And my cousin Karen had a dream that her grandmother said I was going to be alright.  And I had been thinking a lot about being dead myself, and what I wanted from the living after I was gone.  I had a long list of secret demands.  
So I decided that the way to commune with the dead, and at the same time fight for my life, was to write a book about the Sephardic community of Monastir (today's Bitola, Macedonia), where my grandmother was born.  It would take years, which my doctors didn't believe I had, and it would take me out of the world of the living, which I no longer felt very connected to anyway.  So I began.
The unreasonable method
My first breakthrough started with a German book on the history of the Catholic Church in Macedonia.  I was looking at everything.  I prowled corners of library stacks that hadn't been visited in years.  Monastir, set at an ancient crossroads in the Macedonian highlands, had been under Ottoman Turkish rule for more than five centuries, from 1389 until 1912.  Then it was briefly Serbian and after the First World War, Yugoslavian.  World War I accounts like, What an American Woman Saw and Did in Suffering Serbia, hadn't been checked out since the 1930s.  I was becoming a real crank.  When I found the book, Little Grey Partridge: The First World War Diary of Ishobel Ross, who served with the Scottish Women's Hospitals in Serbia, it made my whole day. 
But the German book was a turning point.  The author had found a history of the Catholic mission in Monastir, and he learned from it that two Jewish girls attended the mission school in 1857.  I had to get that history.  The mission existed in Monastir from 1857 to 1930, nearly the entire period of the history I wanted to write, from 1839-1943.  So I looked for the mission history on the Melvyl system, which searches all of the University of California libraries.  It didn't turn up.  I checked Stanford University's catalog.  Nothing.  I checked the catalogs for the New York Public Library, Harvard, and finally the Library of Congress.  Zero.  I went to UC Berkeley to use computers hooked up to WorldCat, which links together 45,000 libraries in 84 countries.  
When that turned up empty, I knew I was in trouble.  I double-checked my source.  It turned out the mission history was an unpublished manuscript located in the archives of the Congregation de la Mission in Paris.  Well, I said to myself, forget about it.  No way you're going to get that.
But about a week later I asked myself, what are you doing?  You have to get that book.  This is no time to fool around.  This has to be done right.  It was the breakthrough that had eluded me my whole life.  It was the take-no-prisoners determination that leads to stories on the evening news about 85-year-old grandmothers who climb Mt. McKinley, or fourth graders who win interviews with the Dalai Lama.  They succeeded by being unreasonable.  I wanted to join that club.
So I called the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, California.  Could I speak to someone specializing in the history of Catholic missions?  I get a call back from a professor aware of the French church I am looking for, and he has the phone number of their office in Los Angeles.  I call Los Angeles and leave a message.  I get a call back from Father Stafford Poole, who has the name of the archivist in Paris and his fax number.  I fax Paris, and three weeks later the manuscript is on my doorstep.  
After that, I was on my way.  I felt invincible.  Nothing could stop me.  I learned of a 19th century American publication called Missionary News from Bulgaria.  Hey, Monastir was considered “ by Bulgarians “ to belong to Bulgaria.  Would Monastir be mentioned in Missionary News?  All I had to do was check through 30 years of the publication on microfilm.  No problem.
Monastir was in there, and also something else.  An American missionary mentioned that in the 1860s he had competition from the Church of Scotland, although it mainly worked with the Monastir Jews.  
The Church of Scotland?  All I had to do was get from Harvard the microfilm of the Church of Scotland Home and Foreign Missionary Record!  No problem.
But after looking through 40 years of that fascinating monthly, I realized that I was just kidding myself.  The only way to do a proper job was to get the minutes of the meetings of the Church of Scotland's œCommittee on the Conversion of the Jews.�  
So I emailed the Church of Scotland.  They explained that their minute books had been relocated to the National Library of Scotland, and at the library Dr. Louise Yeoman quite reasonably explained that she could not go through the Church's minute books of the 1860s looking for mentions of Monastir.  I understood.  œBut, Dr. Yeoman,� I said, œI know that there was a Scot missionary there in 1863.�  I must have also said something else.  I honestly don't remember how I sweet-talked her into looking through those minute books.  But she didn't have a chance, because she was talking not to me “ the ordinary Mark Cohen.  She was talking to the guy who had gotten the church manuscript from Paris.  
I got great information from Scotland about the arrival of a missionary in Monastir just weeks before the great fire of 1863, which destroyed the traditional Jewish quarter.  And I also learned that there had been a missionary in Monastir even earlier.  In 1860, there had been a missionary to the Monastir Jews sent by the Church of Canada.
The Church of Canada?  Well, yes, explained Ruth Wilson at the United Church Archives.  œWe worked with the Church of Scotland in the 19th century.�  But Wilson found no mention of anything about Monastir in the records.  I went back to Dr. Yeoman in Scotland.  She advised that if Canada did not have the actual correspondence, they should look at a publication called A Missionary and Religious Record of the Presbyterian Church of Canada in Connection with the Church of Scotland. 
Who was the Church of Canada's missionary to Monastir in 1860?  A New York Jewish doctor.  Ephraim Epstein was a Jewish convert to Christianity and medical doctor who volunteered to be a missionary to the Jews, with whom he could speak Hebrew.  His 1860 letters from Monastir were published in the church newsletter, and they provided key information about the Jewish community before the 1863 fire, which led to the arrival of the French-language schools of the Alliance Israélite Universelle.  Epstein's 1860 letters strongly suggested that even before the fire there was unrest in the community between traditionalists and modernizers, who wanted to change the traditional Jewish schools and educate girls.  It was a key discovery.
Are you a professor?
The cooperation I received from institutions such as the churches of Scotland and Canada “ the time and energy they devoted to a lone, unaffiliated researcher “inspired and humbled me.  But even those experiences paled beside my experience with Macedonia.  This newly formed country, born after the dissolution of Yugoslavia, holds in the archives and museums of Bitola (formerly Monastir) the photographs of the legendary Manaki brothers, who introduced filmmaking in the Balkans in the early 20th century.  The Manakis worked in Monastir and they photographed the city and its citizens.  What I wanted was some of their photographs of the Monastir Jews.  An official responded to my initial inquiry by inviting me to visit Bitola whenever I liked.  A 14,000-mile round-trip journey from California to Bitola was not what I had in mind.  
Ivan Dodovski understood.  Ivan worked at the Open Society Institute in Macedonia, and he became my chaperone through bureaucracies, my defender against (justifiable) skeptics, and my hero on the day that my mailman handed over to me a small but hefty package festooned with numerous stamps and seals.  The Manaki photographs had arrived.
But such cooperation is what happens when you deal with non-Jewish organizations.  I soon learned it is a whole different ball game when you deal with Jewish groups.  I don't care if it's a synagogue or a Jewish historical society.  All the conversations go the same way.
œHello, my name is Mark Cohen.  May I please speak with the person who organizes your archive.�
œWe don't have an archive.�
œBut, I was just on your website and it mentions an archive.�
œ�It's closed now.�
œIs Ms. Feldman there?�
œWhy do want to see the archive?�
œI'm writing a book about the Sephardic Jews and as it turns out that in 1875¦.�
œAre you a professor or something?�
œWell, actually, no.  I'm writing this book ¦�
œMark, honey, maybe you can call back later.�
But at a Christian organization the conversation goes something like this.
œI'm writing this book about a Sephardic community in the Balkans¦�
œMark, this is a very important project.  I'm going to give you three phone numbers.  The first is the private line for the Pope.�
But in time, even the Jewish organizations caved in, and I got papers from the Central Zionist Archives in Jerusalem, the Joint Distribution Committee in New York, the labor Zionist youth group Hashomer Hatzair, and many others.  Without the extraordinary cooperation of the Alliance Israélite Universelle in Paris my book would have been impossible.
My history lesson
Some of these old papers, these communications from the dead, had interesting things to tell me not only about Monastir, but also about my myself and my upbringing.  There was a very un-American formality in my father's Sephardic family.  People were real sticklers when it came to propriety and protocol.  My father to this day can strike an attitude of regal untouchability.  It was at times no pleasure to live with, and like all children I dismissed my father's explanations about his upbringing as mere excuses.  So I was unhappy to learn that he may have been right.  Because in 1873, the French Catholic missionary in Monastir had many Jewish boys in his school and he was struck by their formal behavior, which was far superior to that of his Christian students.  He wrote,
œI have often admired the honesty and integrity of these Jewish youths.  If one of them sometimes allows himself to say something inappropriate to me, he would immediately be denounced by his comrades, who would rebuke him warmly for having dared to say to his teacher una palabra negra [a bad word].  Every time we go visit their parents at home, they receive us as great personages with all possible ceremony.�

    This evidence of a long-standing culture of formality exonerated my dad, and raised a new question:  How much of ourselves is of our own making?  How much is decided before our birth by history, tradition, inherited traits of character, in-bred traditions of behavior?  
I am one of those people who can't stand change.  I compare everything to how the world was in 1967 in New York.  The pizza then was better, and also the baseball cards, Good Humor ice cream trucks, comic books, lawn sprinklers and the bikes we drove through them, you name it.  It's not an approach I recommend.  But I admit it took some weight off my shoulders to learn that all of Jewish Monastir was like this.  The Ladino language there was among the least changed and most archaic in the Balkans.  The Spanish ballads sung there were among the most obscure ever found.  The way of dress there changed more slowly than it did elsewhere.  These people fought change tooth and nail.  So maybe that's where I get it from. 
And maybe that is one of the consolations of history. The individual is not the be all and end all.  Life had a momentum and a direction before we arrived.  It's not all our fault.
For me, the consolations have also been more tangible and more unlikely.  
My search for the remaining scraps of Jewish Monastir amounted to a hunt for signs of life.  At the same time, doctors searched me for signs of death.  They used X-rays, CT scans and other tools to peer into my brain, lungs, and blood for signs of cancer, while I used the Internet, email, and telephone to scan the world for evidence that death had not and could not erase signs of life.  My faith in the power of life seems to have swayed the judge of all life.  I was granted a reprieve.  The cancer removed by surgery has not reappeared.  My book, however, appeared in 2003 and was purchased by libraries and individuals across the country and around the world.  Now it, too, is one of those scraps that bear witnesses for life “ that testify in the face of death that we still live.

Our Centropa Sephardic Recipe Archive is a treasure trove of great recipes, and occasional stories, from our teams working in Turkey, Greece, Bulgaria and other countries.
Aside from recipes collected from our interviewees, we are also drawing from books, not all of which have been translated, or even if they were, have proven damned hard to find. Primarily, you will find Turkish, Greek and Bulgarian recipes, and although they are all Sephardic, they have subtle and sometimes surprising differences. 

Meet our Sephardi Chefs: 

Deniz Alphan's Dina' nin Mitfagi: Türk Sefarad Yemekleri was published in 2005 by Dogan Kitap Publishers. This remarkable book is a collection of recipes Deniz learned from her mother. 
Regrettably, the books is not available in English, but if you speak or read Turkish, here is a direct link to the publisher: click here


About rictandag @rictandag @LVHelpGro Returned U.S. Peace Corps Volunteer, Tandag, Surigao del Sur, Republic of the Philippines 1979-1980; Financial Management training Program [FMP], G.E., Appliance Park, Louisville, Kentucky 1981-1982 Champion [two days] Jeopardy 1986 Attorney, Los Angeles, CA 1989-1995 Disabiility Rights Attorney,, Las Vegas 1998-1999 Immigration Asylum Attorney, throughout the State of Kansas 1999-2001 Supply Logistics Specialist, UPS Las Vegas, 2006- present [business] advocate for: [Gawad Kalinga, tagalog for "to give care"]
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