The history of the city of Dubrovnik has been connected with the presence of Jews since its beginnings. Jews have lived in Dalmatia since antiquity. They lived in small communities, but since the Middle Ages, they have been settling in increasing numbers on the territory of the Republic of Dubrovnik, where they remain permanently. As in other European countries, in the Republic of Dubrovnik there was also religious intolerance towards the Jews, which led to attempts to deprive them of their rights or to expel them from the city, but these measures were abandoned because the Jews were an important economic factor in the Republic of Dubrovnik. Dubrovnik developed into an important commercial center, which attracted many Jews from Italy and Albania who were engaged in trade, but the biggest wave of settlement occurred at the end of the 15th century when all the Jews from Spain and Portugal were expelled. All of them migrated to the east, mostly to the Ottoman Empire, but many of them remained in the Republic of Dubrovnik. These Jews were called Sephardi, which means "Spaniards" in Hebrew.
In Dubrovnik, Jews mostly lived peacefully with Christians, and they were allowed freedom of religion and religious ceremonies. They were mostly engaged in crafts, finance, but also medicine. They lived in a separate part of the city - the ghetto, where there is also a street named after them - Žudioska Street. In that street, the Sephardi built the Dubrovnik synagogue, the second oldest synagogue in Europe and the oldest Sephardic synagogue in the world that is still active. Numerous objects of religious and historical importance are kept in the synagogue, such as the Torah from the 13th century. The number of members of the Jewish community was slowly growing, but with the passing of racial laws during the Second World War, their number decreased, and the Jewish community in Dubrovnik has not yet returned to the state it was in before the Second World War.
Find out more: