Total population: 620,000
Jewish population: 400
The first traces of Jewish presence in Montenegro date from ancient Duklja, whose ruins are located close to the centre of Podgorica, the capital of Montenegro. Archaeologists have ascertained that the graves discovered in its necropolis had belonged to Jews.
In the Middle Ages Jews lived within the borders of present-day Montenegro in areas surrounding today’s towns of Pljevlja, Plav, Gusinj, Bijelo Polje, Berane and Ulcinj, which used to be ruled by the Ottoman Empire. Most of those Jews were Sephardim who came to our country from Spain and Portugal via Bosnia, or directly from Constantinople, at the beginning of the 16th century.
At the beginning of the 17th century, Šabataj Cevi, who proclaimed himself messiah and had a great number of followers, lived, worked and most likely was buried in Ulcinj. In her work “Traces of Jews in the Bay of Kotor” Lenka Blehova Celebic emphasizes the influence Jews had on the development of commerce in those regions, especially in organizing international commerce. Isaije Koen, a famous Portuguese doctor and poet of Jewish origin, better known as Flavio Eborenze Didako Piro, who wrote a book about his exile, was buried in Herceg Novi.
After wars with Napoleon and the occupation of the Bay of Kotor and another part of today’s Montenegrin coast by Austria, a larger number of Jewish people reappeared in that region. They were mostly concentrated in Kotor, as it was the administrative center. It should be mentioned that Jews were also present in these regions earlier. The fact that one part of Kotor’s cemetery was reserved for Jewish inhumations testifies to the respect Jews in the Bay of Kotor have enjoyed. A particular parcel was located near the main entrance to the cemetery and close to the main cemetery chapel, which was not customary. Today the cemetery is in relatively good condition and it is regularly maintained.
Montenegro can be proudly commended for being one of a few regions in Europe where the Holocaust was not carried out in an organized way. Unfortunately, after Italy had capitulated, between September 1943 and February 1944 the Gestapo managed to identify most remaining Jews in Montenegro. The majority was taken to concentration camps in small groups where they have experienced the same fate like the rest.
The Jewish community in Montenegro is one of the youngest Jewish communities in the world. At the end of January 2012 the Jewish community and the government signed the Act on Mutual Relations.
Montenegro is a highly multiconfessional country and there is no public manifestation of anti-Semitism. Moreover there is great respect for Jewish people and their contribution to the world civilization.
According to the last census, about 400 Jews live in Montenegro. Among them there are about 100 who are actively involved with the community. The Community it is very vibrant and active in different fields, especially in organizing “Mahar Conference”, central meeting point for Jewish communities of the Balkan region. This conference aims to prevent the assimilation of the Jews in the region and with the goal to establish cooperation between the region’s Jewish communities.
The community has been granted an attractive location in a central area of Podgorica to build a synagogue and Jewish cultural center. The project design for the object has been finalized and the Community is now in the process of fundraising. In the meantime, one large part of the Community office has been turned it into synagogue.
Jewish community of Montenegro
President: Jasha Alfandari
Vice-President: Jelena Djurovic
Vice-President: Djordje Raicevic
Address: Filipa Lainovica Street, No.19 apt.17
Phone: +382 20 622930
Mobile: +382 69 560 878
Israel Embassy in Montenegro (Israel Mission accredited to in Belgrade)
Bulevar Mira 47 Dedinje Beograd
Montenegro Embassy in Israel (non-resident)
Tamara Mugoša, Ambassador
Stanka Dragojevića Street, 2
Phone: +382 (0) 20 225 601
Fax:+382 (0)20 225 536
Honorary Consulate General of Montenegro in Israel
2 Raul Wallenberg St. Tel-Aviv 69719