City of Bulgaria. According to local tradition there was not a Jew at Shumla until about 1780; but in that year a pasha of Adrianople, having been appointed military governor of the city, brought with his regiment a Jewish physician of Adrianople, known as Kiamal or Hakim-Bashi, but whose real name was Ḥayyim Aaron Ashkenazi. This man, being a pious Jew, asked the pasha to permit him to send for a shoḥeṭ and for some Jewish families from Adrianople. He received the desired permission, and later on other Jews from Pravady, Rasgrad, and Viddin joined the first immigrants. With the authorization of the pasha this group of families lived in some buildings standing in the middle of a large court, which thus formed a ghetto, the doors of which were closed every evening. A small synagogue was soon built within the enclosure. According to a tombstone in the cemetery, which tradition has made sacred, the first rabbi of the community was a certain Hay Fayo of Bosnia. Kiamal enjoyed many privileges and exercised great influence over the pasha. His descendants are still living at Shumla, and some of them practise medicine there.
The local synagogue was reconstructed in 1858. As Shumla was spared by the victors during the Turco-Russian war of 1876-78, the Jews there offered shelter to their coreligionists of other cities.
Some of the given names of the Shumla, Jews are curious, e.g.: "Bitousche" for Shabbethai; "Mercousch" for Mercado; "Bischko" for Preciado; "Boucco" for Behor; "Hacco" for Isaac; "Mendousch" for Miriam; "Istrug" for Astruc; and "Mereno" (the brown). Some of the family names seem inexplicable, as "Yulzari," "Bahsi," etc.
The most prominent families of the city are those of Judah Behar Israel and Ishak Behar Aron. The chief rabbis of Shumla in the nineteenth century were the following: Raphael Joseph Galimidi (1831-36); Shabbethai Farḥi (1836-58); Mattithiah Sarmani (1858-72); Ḥayyim Franco of Rhodes (1872-73); Jacob Estrumsa (1873-84). Since the last-named, Shumla has had no spiritual chief, the ḥazzan of the synagogue filling at the same time the offices of chief rabbi and judge. The management of the affairs of the community is in the hands of a synagogal committee whose election must be approved by the minister of public worship.
Shumla possesses the following philanthropic societies: 'Ozer Dallim, founded in 1875, for the supply of fuel in winter to the poor; Esperanza, a ladies' society for the relief of public misery in cases of catastrophe; and Biḳḳur Ḥolim, for the provision of medical aid, medicine, and burial for the poor; likewise Aguddat Yeladim, a reading society; and La Fourmi or Anemala, a mutual-aid society for Jewish working men. There are, besides the synagogue, two schools of the Alliance Israélite Universelle (120 boys and 110 girls).
The Jews of Shumla at present (1905) number 200 families in a total population of about 22,000 (11,000 Mohammedans and 10,000 Orthodox Bulgarians).
In common with all the Jews of Bulgaria, those of Shumla perform military service. During the Bulgaro-Servian war the Jews of Shumla served in the ranks of the local militia, and several of them were decorated with the military medal. Of the two Jewish officers in the Bulgarian army, the, sublieutenant Moreno Grassiani is a native of Shumla.