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Salonica, The Jerusalem of the Balkans

Hosted By: Congregation Beth Shalom

Some 20,000 Jewish refugees made their way to Salonica after their expulsion from Spain in 1492. They found a city empty of Jews and their arrival was encouraged by the Sultan, Bayezid II. Learn about the history and rich vibrant culture of a community allowed freedom of religious practice and communal autonomy under Islam. Whilst the Sephardi Jews had arrived destitute, living in poverty as manual workers or petty traders, some became entrepreneurs who supported the community and later brought new industry and trade to the city. Salonica’s flourishing port which was manned by Jewish porters, stevedores, sailors and fisherman, shut down over the Jewish Sabbath. However, in the mid-twentieth century what had been the largest Ladino-speaking community in the world, perished in Auschwitz – Birkenau.

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Dr. Hilary Pomeroy

Dr. Pomeroy was awarded her PhD in the Department of Hispanic studies, Queen Mary, University of London and taught the history and culture of Sephardi Jews in the Department of Hebrew and Jewish Studies, University College London. She chaired the foremost international conference on Judeo-Spanish Studies for twenty-five years, the last three conferences in collaboration with Bar-Ilan University, Israel, and the Consejo Cientifico de Investigaciones Superiores, Madrid. She has published numerous articles and a book on the Moroccan ballad tradition.
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Congregation Beth Shalom

Congregation Beth Shalom, the spiritual home to more than 1,150 member families, is the largest Conservative synagogue in Chicago’s northern suburbs. We are a strong and diverse congregation and think of ourselves as a large family and a place people comfortably call their “home away from home.”
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