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JEWISH CEMETERY

Ilindenska 1.

The history of the predominantly Sephardic Jewish community of Bitola, which numbered over 3,000 men, woman and children before the war, stretches back centuries and ended on a single day in 1943 when the entire population was deported to the Treblinka extermination camp. All that remains of this once diverse community are an extraordinary collection of portrait photographs made by the occupying Bulgarian forces in 1942 that’s now housed at the Macedonian State Archives in Skopje and this forlorn-looking cemetery in the northeastern suburbs of the city. Occupying the side of a hill immediately north of the roundabout that leads to the road to Skopje and dating back to just five years after the expulsion of the Jews from Spain in 1492, approximately 1,000 stone graves remain. The cemetery’s generally open, except, somewhat strangely, when it’s raining. It’s not too difficult to climb over the fence to pay your respects however. Don’t forget to leave a stone on a grave when you’re there.

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