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PERGAMUS (BERGAMA):

City of Asia Minor a few hours distant from Smyrna. Although there are no documents to show that Jews lived there in ancient times, it is probable, in view of its flourishing condition in past ages, that it, like other cities, was influenced by Jewish trade. The earliest Jewish settlement there of which anything is definitely known was made about the middle of the eighteenth century, its members coming principally from Constantinople, Salonica, Tunis, Algiers, Smyrna, and the neighboring country. The commerce of Pergamus was formerly in the hands of the Jews, and they were universally respected; but today (1904) their financial condition, except in a very few cases, is deplorable, on account of their passion for gambling and owing also to the development of trade by other classes in the town. Most of the Jews make their living by selling merchandise at the large weekly fair held at Pergamus, although there are among them a few artisans (chiefly shoemakers and tinsmiths) and pedlers. Certain Jewish family names in Pergamus are found but rarely elsewhere in Turkey, e.g., Hova and Misriel. According to local tradition, during a battle in the war for Greek independence fought at Pergamus in 1820 the Jews were ordered by the Turks to throw the Greek dead into the brook Boklu Chai, which flows through the town. At that time the chief rabbi was Mordecai Varon. His successors were Mordecai Sardas, Abraham Kurkidi (1860-80; author of "Wayiḳra Abraham," Smyrna, 1887), Isaac Mizraḥi, Joseph Aboab, Isaac Franco, and the present (1904) incumbent, Solomon Ḥabib.

There are three Jewish cemeteries at Pergamus, the oldest gravestone dating from 5594 (= 1834), and the latest cemetery having been opened in 1869. The community possesses a synagogue and a small school, subventioned by the Alliance Israélite Universelle, and there are two benevolent societies. The Jews speak Judæo-Spanish, Turkish, and Greek, and live in entire harmony with the adherents of other creeds.

The Jewish inhabitants number about 500 in a total population of 18,000, showing an increase of about 200 in twenty years.

S. A. Ga. M. Fr.
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