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Salonica Largest Jewish Balkan City

Owing to heavy immigration of Jews from Salonica and other parts of Greece, Macedonia and Turkey in recent years, Salonica has now become the largest Jewish city in the Balkans and in Southern Europe, according to the latest official census, which shows the Jewish population here to exceed 60,000.

At the same time Salonica has assumed the place occupied formerly by Constantinople as the chief center of Sephardic Jewish culture in Southeastern Europe At the same time there is noted here a closer contact with the Jews of Northern Europe from whom the Greek Jews have kept apart for centuries because of language differences, which are now being overcome by the large influx of German and other Ashkenazi Jews, speaking German, Yiddish and English; the spread of Zionism, and more extensive use of Hebrew in conversation.

The great majority of the Jews of Salonica and of the rest of Greece still speak a language foreign to the Northern Jew, according to the latest statistical data. Sixty per cent, of the Salonica Jews and all those of Southern Greece and of the Greek Islands speak an Italian dialect with an admixture of Hebrew words, while the Jewish inhabitants of the Northern Greek provinces, that is, the part which formerly belonged to Turkey, speak Ladino-old Spanish interspersed with Hebrew words. It is the linguistic difference that has kept the Greek Jew isolated from the rest of Jewry.

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