Menu JTA Search

Between the Lines

SIGN UP FOR THE JTA DAILY BRIEFING

The news that the Bulgarian government has suppressed the Rodna Zashtita, an anti-Semitic terrorist organization, brings the position of Bulgarian Jewry closer to our attention.

Little is known in America about the Bulgarian Jews, though the Jewish community there numbers about 50,000.

There are no Jewish officials in Bulgaria, either in the government or in the municipalities. One cannot say that Jews are barred from state employment by law, because no such anti-Jewish law exists in the country. The fact remains, however, that no Jew is on the payroll as a state employe.

There are thirty-four Jewish communities existing in Bulgaria today, maintaining twenty-one synagogues. The Jewish communities are very poor. A number of them are not even in a position to maintain a rabbi. Only two of the larger communities have rabbis.

ENJOYING EQUAL RIGHTS

Bulgarian Jewry is organized on the basis of the national-religious principles. The supreme representative organ of the Bulgarian Jews—the Sabaor—gathers once a year to elect a consistory of twenty-one members. This consistory is the executive arm of the Sabaor. Each member of the consistory must be approved by the ministry of religion.

The legal status of Bulgarian Jewry is guaranteed by the Berlin pact. The Bulgarian constitution too, guarantees equal rights for all citizens, so that the Jews enjoy full political rights in the country. Quite often Jews are elected members of the parliament.

The Jewish school system in Bulgaria is the institution around which the Jewish cultural life is concentrated. It consists of twenty-two elementary schools, five high schools and thirteen kindergartens. The budget of the school system, amounting to $75,000 yearly, is covered largely by the Jewish communities, the municipalities contributing twenty per cent.

The government, which used to subsidize the Jewish school system, discontinued this subsidy three years ago.

IN MISSIONARY SCHOOLS

The Jewish schools in Bulgaria accommodate only about fifty per cent of all the Jewish children of school age. Thirty-five per cent of the rest attend Bulgarian schools and fifteen per cent find their education in missionary schools.

There are no Jewish professors in the Bulgarian universities. In this respect there is a perfect numerus nullus existing, though no special laws against admitting Jews to professorships have ever been promulgated.

The same is true also with regard to the Bulgarian schools attended by Jewish children. There is not a single Jewish teacher in any of these schools. In accordance with a law issued recently the subjects of history, geography and the Bulgarian language must be taught—even in Jewish schools—by Bulgarian citizens who are not Jews.

The Jews in Bulgaria are concentrated chiefly in three cities. Sixty-three per cent of the entire Jewish population is to be found in Sofia, Plowdiw and Ruse. According to a government census thirty per cent of the Jewish population are laborers and twenty-seven per cent are employes. The rest are engaged in small trading and in small industry. About 500 Jews are in the free professions.

NEXT STORY