<After 1918. [Jewish
professions - Jews in politics - little anti-Semitism]
With the establishment of the Yugoslav kingdom, about 100
Jewish communities (with 70,000 Jews) were included in the
new state. the Jews generally belonged to the middle
class, but there were also impoverished communities, such
as that of Bitolj. The Jews were well represented in
industry, commerce, and artisanal activity. They also held
an important place in the banking business.
There were some professions, such as the army's officers'
cadres, the upper government services, and journalism,
from which the Jews were almost totally absent. The Jews
of Croatia and Slavonia were under the cultural influence
of Germany and Hungary and surpassed their coreligionists
of the other Yugoslav provinces in the economic and
cultural spheres. The Jews of Macedonia maintained their
oriental character and their economic and cultural
standards were somewhat backward in comparison to the
remainder of Yugoslav Jewry.
There was a marked Hungarian influence among the Jews of
Vojvodina. The Jews did not hold a prominent place in
political life, although there were some influential
members in the parties. De Majo, an advocate of Belgrade,
was elected in 1927 for one term to the parliament
Anti-Semitism as an organized movement was non-existent.
After World War I, some signs of it appeared, but the
situation improved again. The Karageorgevich dynasty and
the Orthodox Church evinced a favorable attitude toward
the Jews. The anti-Semitic sentiments really originated in
Croatia and Slavonia. In Vojvodina, there was some
hostility toward the Jews who had been Austro-Hungarians
before the war and thus were considered to be the
representatives of the alien Hungarian culture.
THE ORGANIZATION OF THE JEWS.
The unification of the variegated Yugoslav Jewish
population was not easy. Yugoslav Jewry did not form a
single unit. In the southern districts, from the Sava and
Danube rivers and further, there were essentially
Sephardim, while the other provinces were mainly inhabited
by Ashkenazim. The Sephardim generally adhered to their
oriental manner of life and the Ladino language, while
some others were influenced by the speech and culture of
the southern Slavs.
In 1939 there were about 43,000 Ashkenazim [[Jews with
European descent]] and 29,000 Sephardim [[Jews with
African descent]] in Yugoslavia. They lived in 121
At a meeting of the communities which was convened in
Osijek in 1919, the "Federation of Jewish (Religious)
Communities" was founded. It received government
recognition and its activities extended to the fields of
religion, culture, and education.
In 1923 the chief rabbinate was founded and an association
of rabbis was formed. The final status of the communities
was confirmed in 1929.
The separate union of Orthodox communities, which had
refused to join the federation of the communities, also
received legal recognition at that time. The Orthodox
union consisted of 12 communities and numbered 3,426 in
1935. The spiritual head of the Jewish population was the
chief rabbi, Dr. Isaak *Alkalay (he held office from 1924
to 1941), who was appointed by the king and resided in
Belgrade. The chief rabbi was equal in status to the
Orthodox patriarch, the Catholic archbishop, and the
Muslim reis ul-Ulema
[[chief scholar]]. He was also a member of the Yugoslav
EDUCATION AND CULTURE.
There were Jewish elementary schools, which had existed
before the Yugoslav kingdom, in the towns of *Zrenjanin,
Osijek, *Sarajevo, Senta, *Zagreb, and *Zemun. The
government prohibited the opening of new elementary
schools. In Vojvodina there were yeshivot [[religious
Torah schools]] in Senta, Subotica, Kanjiza (Kanji¸a), and
Ilok. Jewish (col. 873)
children attended the general schools, in which two hours
weekly were allocated for Jewish religious studies. From
1928 to 1938 there was a seminary in Sarajevo for the
training of hakhamim
[[spiritual leaders]] and teachers on a secondary school
level. Among the scholars and authors mention should be
made of Lavoslav Sik (¦ik), a historian of Yugoslav Jewry,
the poet Hinko *Gottlieb, and Siegfried Kapper. An
important place in Yugoslav literature was held by Isaac
*Samakovilija, a Bosnian novelist who died in 1955. The
headquarters of the [[racist]] Zionist Organization were
in Zagreb, where newspapers and periodicals were
In 1926 there was a Jewish population of 73,267 and in
1935, 70,000. According to the census of 1939, there were
71,000 Jews. The decrease in the number of Jews in
Yugoslavia can be explained by the increase of
*anti-Semitism in Europe.
[S.MAR. / ED.]> (col. 874)