<i>Last Century</i> of a Sephardic Community - The Jews of Monastir, 1839-1943.
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Emigration of the Monastirlis

The Sephardic Jews of Monastir, 1839-1943. A web companion to a new history.

Alberto Levy Arueste, a tailor by trade, is the first recorded Jewish emigrant from Monastir. Arueste left Monastir in 1900, and after traveling through Europe and then Argentina he found work as a tailor in Temuco, Chile.

Arueste prospered in Temuco, sent money to his parents in Monastir, and invited his brother to come to "the new Eden." This letter generated excitement in the community. By 1907, the families of Daniel Levy, Matias Albala, Moises Chame and Alfonso Israel arrived in Temuco. By 1929 there were about 40 Monastirli families in the city.

Emigration to the United States

At the same time that some Monastir Jews were leaving for Temuco, a far greater number were setting sail for New York.

By 1907 there were enough Monastirlis in the city to found a mutual aid society, Ahavath Shalom de Monastir, or Peace and Brotherhood of Monastir. In February 1911, the group had 120 members representing about 600 Monastirlis, and it met at 197 Chrystie Street in Manhattan.

On April 14, 1911, New York´s Judeo-Spanish newspaper, La America, reported that the Monastirlis held a great ceremony to celebrate the dedication of a new sefer Torah (Torah scroll) for their synagogue. A band played music, a children´s choir was directed by Jack Farhi, people danced in the streets, and American, Ottoman, and Jewish flags were flown.

Emigration from Monastir to New York appears to have been brisk compared to other Sephardic communities. In the fall of 1912, when 12 Sephardic societies held High Holiday services in New York, the Monastir Jews were one of only three groups that had a permanent synagogue, which was located at 98 Forsyth Street in lower Manhattan. In 1915, 200 members attended a meeting of the Monastir society, representing a community of about 1,000.

Rochester and Indianapolis

The Monastirlis also founded communities in Rochester, New York, and Indianapolis, Indiana. Their arrival in Rochester and Indianapolis was facilitated by the Industrial Removal Office (IRO), which was an arm of the Jewish Agricultural and Industrial Aid Society. The IRO directed many Jewish immigrants toward opportunities outside New York.

Monastir Jews arrived in Rochester in the spring of 1906, when David Albahari, Jacob Pesso, Samuel Levi, Moshe Rousso, and Rafael Testa settled in the town. These men soon sent for their families and in 1909 they founded Congregation Or Israel Monastir. By 1920, there were 500 Sephardim in Rochester.

Jacob and Rachel Toledano were the first Monastirlis to settle in Indianapolis in 1906, and by 1913 the Monastirlis were numerous enough to found Congregation Sepharad of Monastir. The city´s great attraction was employment at the Kahn Tailoring Company, which hired many Sephardic Jews.

The arrival of some Sephardim from Salonika and elsewhere led to the founding in 1919 of a new Sephardic congregation, Etz Chaim. By 1933, about 75 Sephardic families, mostly from Monastir, lived in Indianapolis.

<i>Last Century</i> of a Sephardic Community - The Jews of Monastir, 1839-1943.

Last Century of a Sephardic Community - The Jews of Monastir, 1839-1943.
by Mark Cohen

LIST PRICE: $34.95


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