A couple of years ago I found out that I have some Jewish ancestry when investigating my family's history. I know that my great grandfather perished in the holocaust, but I was led to believe that it was not because he was Jewish but simply one of the other types of "undesirables" (people from my parents' homeland were killed alongside Jews so this was highly plausible).

After some research I found that he was Jewish. Though this relative is on my mother's side, he is the father of her father so from my understanding this would mean I am not considered Jewish by Orthodox standards (I am looking to find out more information about my other relatives but most I've researched so far do have church records, so it seems unlikely they were Jewish).

Despite not being considered Jewish, I would nevertheless like to learn more about Jewish traditions and beliefs so I can understand more about my background and get a sense of what life was like for someone like my great grandfather growing up. I was wondering if there are introductory resources that talk about Jewish belief and tradition in the Balkans as I would love to read them.


1 Answer 1


First of all, you might want to be a bit more specific. "The Balkans" comprises a large land mass and includes half a dozen different countries - some of which, like Greece, have a great deal of literature written about them. If it is only material of a very general nature that you are looking for, I would start with the following article, and then follow up on its sources:

Annette B. Fromm, "Hispanic Culture in Exile: Sephardic Life in the Ottoman Balkans", in Sephardic & Mizrahi Jewry: From the Golden Age of Spain to Modern Times (ed. Zion Zohar; New York University, 2005), 145-166.

Also, there appears to be some material of relevance in this article as well, which might also be of interest to you:

Aron Rodrigue, "The Ottoman Diaspora: The Rise and Fall of Ladino Literary Culture", in Cultures of the Jews: A New History (ed. David Biale; Schocken Books, 2002), 863-885.

If you also want to find material that pertains to their experiences in the Shoah, you should start with Raul Hilberg, The Destruction of the European Jews (3 vols.; Holmes & Meier, 1985), 679-860. Given the German re-appropriation of land to their allies, you will find material there about Hungary as well - which I expect will be less of relevance to you.

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