The Jews of Karnobat: Chapters from the depths: the history of a vanished community

Based on documents, diaries, interviews and gravestones in Bulgaria's oldest cemetery


    ”Zvi Keren's book is the first study of the Karnobat Jewish community and its cemetery, in fact, it is the first study of a Jewish cemetery in Bulgaria. This alone should constitute an immense contribution to Jewish Studies. In addition, Dr. Keren's study, despite its brevity, covers every important aspect of Jewish life in Bulgaria between the 1610s and 1950 and adds a vast new source on the history of Bulgarian Jewry. Keren's superb analysis of the tombstones of the oldest Jewish cemetery in Bulgaria is put into a larger context of Ottoman and Bulgarian history which makes it relevant for scholars in other fields. This study sheds new light on the social stratification, language behavior, and physical health of Krnobat Jews, as well as their relations with the other communities in the city.

Olga Borovaya, Stanford University,
Mediterranean Studies Forum

    “The Jewish Community of Krnobat is by far the one which left us with the oldest and best physical evidence of its existence.
    The cemetery, dating from the 17th century, is unique in both age and level of preservation. It gives us an opportunity to investigate the inner life and values of a Jewish community in Bulgaria in a period which had not drawn the attention of scholars until Dr. Zvi Keren started his scholarly work in the mid-1990s.
   Dr. Keren's work is an important contribution not only in its matchless subject matter, but also in the detailed and deep scientific work done by the author.
Minna Rozen, Department of Jewish History,
University of Haifa, Israel
Table of contents

Rules for Translation

Rules for Transliteration


Part I

Chapter A: The History of Karnobat

1. Early Times

2. Under Ottoman Rule

3. Times of National Liberation

Chapter B: The Jewish Community from Its Establishment to the Emigration to Israel/`Aliah (1948-1950)

1. The Early Ottoman Period

2. The Community and Its Way of Life in the 19th Century

3. Religion, Tradition and Neighborly Relations

4. The Customs and Habits of Local Jews

5. The Russo-Turkish War (19771978) and Its Effect on the Community

6. Rehabilitation and Reorganization after the War

7. Functioning of Institutions until World War II

8. Zionist Activities

9. Sources of Income

10. Jewish Education

11. The Balkan Wars and World War I

12. The Community from World War II until `Aliyah: 19391948

13. Jews Banished from Sofia Who Were Sent to Karnobat

Appendices to Part I

Part II. The Voiceless Stones Speak

Chapter A: The Jewish Cemetery of Karnobat

1. Types of Gravestones

2. Types of Gravestones Ornamentation

3. Causes of Death

4. Classification by Age

5. Inscription Language

6. Grammatical Errors in Hebrew Inscriptions

7. Twelve Most Common Family Name

8. Various Components

9. People from Elsewhere Buried in Karnobat

10. Gravestones Inscribed with Elegies and Liturgical Poetry

Chapter B: The Circle of Life Reflected in Gravestones

1. The Family’s Grief and Pain  

2. Women Who Died in Childbirth or Shortly Thereafter

3. Death of Children

4. Belts, Buckles and Their Meaning

5. Wealthy and High-Status Jews in the Community

6. Simple Gravestones

7. Murder and Violence in Karnobat

Appendix to Part II: Map of Karnobat Cemetery



Publisher The American Research Center in Sofia
Language English
Pages 192
Illustrations b/w and color figures
Binding hardback
ISBN 978-954-92571-5-1
Creation date 2014
Size 16 х 24 cm

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