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Until 2003, Ljubljana was the only European capital city without a Jewish place of worship. Jewish history. [September 2010]

BOOK: Gruber, Ruth Ellen. Jewish Heritage Travel: A Guide to East-Central Europe. New York: John Wiley & Sons, Inc, 1992. Page 238 has town and photo information for Ljubljana. Extracted by Elaine B. Kolinsky

Jews may have built a synagogue in Ljubljana in 1213, but settlement records of important towns suggest Jewish settlement only at the end of the 13th century. The community had a school and Beth Din. Jews in mediaeval Ljubljana were bankers, merchants, artisans, and farmers. After the expulsion of 1515 few Jews ever resettled although a small number returned in the 19th century. The community never reached any appreciable size. Anti-Semitic developed by WWI. The media called for the expulsion of those Jews living in the city. As the Austro-Hungarian Empire disintegrated in 1918, Ljubljana became the unofficial capital of Slovenia within the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes. In 1929 Ljubljana was the official seat of the province of Drava Banovina (most of modern Slovenia) within the Kingdom of Yugoslavia. In April 1941, Italian forces occupied it. In 1942 32 km of barbed wire encircled it. In September 1943, Nazi Germany took over. After WWII, the city became the capital of the Yugoslavian province of Slovenia and in 1991 of the independent country of Slovenia. Most Jews in Slovenia today live in Ljubljana.Židovska Ulica (Jewish Street) and Židovska Steza (Jewish Path) are two narrow streets of Ljubljana’s mediaeval Jewish quarter in the city center, today a fashionable district of Baroque and nineteenth-century buildings. Standing on ancient foundations, no archaeological excavations of the area have taken place. No maps of the city date from before the 16th century. Probably the mediaeval Jewish quarter had about thirty two-story structures with the top story constructed of wood. The city’s mediaeval Jewish population peaked around 300. The entrance probably was on the site of present-day Jurcicev Trg (Jurcicev Square) across the street from the first bridge across the Sava River in central Ljubljana. In mediaeval times, the river had no embankment. Židovska Ulica runs parallel.From 1515 until the end of the 16th century, ta Christian chapel on the site of Ljubljana’s former synagogue at 4 Židovska Steza. The Jewish community offices today are in a large office block just outside the city centre where first synagogue created in Ljubljana for nearly 500 years was dedicated in January 2003 at Tržaška 2, 1000 Ljubljana.

Zale Cemetery: Municipal Cemetery, Zale Pod Hmeljniki 2, Ljubljana, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it . A 1.5 meters high yew hedge on three sides and a wall on the fourth sets it off from the rest of the municipal cemetery. The small rectangular plot  has a 3-4 meter section of hedge down, following an accidental leaf  fire in 1995. Unlocked iron gates with Stars of David along with Hebrew and Slovenian wording indicates the Jewish cemetery, the only individual cemetery separated by religion from the main part. 24 marked Jewish graves, some for more than one person, are arranged around the perimeter of the section. Stones are simple with only a name and date of death. One tomb marks an unidentified Jewish W.W.II victim. Jews in mixed marriages are buried in the main part of the cemetery with their families. Book includes pictures. Source: Jewish Monuments in Slovenia. Gruber, Ruth Ellen and Samuel D. Jewish Heritage Research Center: November 1996 and The US Commission for the Preservation of America's Heritage Abroad.

The separate Jewish cemetery established in 1926 was forced to re-inter its graves in Zale in 1964 because authorities wanted to build a monument on the original plot of land. Some graves are for more than one person. All are arranged around the section’s perimeter. Markers are on white gravel bases surrounded by lawn and trees. Almost all the graves have a simple headstone and a lower curb-like enclosure. Inscriptions are only the name of the deceased and the date of death. One grave is that of an unidentified Jewish victim of the WWII. This  rectangular plot set off from the rest of the cemetery by a yew hedge on three sides and a wall on the fourth has iron gates with Mogen Davids and signs in Hebrew and Slovenian. Only the Jewish section is separated by religion.A small 1964 Holocaust memorial is a horizontal, rectangular slab with the inscription: ‘Remember the Jews, fallen soldiers and victims of Fascism, 1941-1945.’ A Menorah shield of Israel, with the word ‘Israel’ in Hebrew. [January 2009]

Last Updated on Saturday, 04 September 2010 13:47
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