PARIS — October 11, 2023 marked the official opening of the “Salonika, Jerusalem of the Balkans” exhibition of the mahJ (Musée d’art et d’histoire du Judaïsme) in Paris. The exhibition takes a photographic look back at the presence of Jewish life in Salonika, also known as modern-day Thessaloniki, between 1870 and 1920.
At the beginning of the 20th century, Jews made up the majority of the population, making this economic capital of independent Greece the “Jerusalem of the Balkans” until the almost total deportation of the city’s Jews in 1943. The city was for a long time a Jewish city, where shopkeepers of all denominations closed on Saturdays and during Jewish holidays. The 150 works in the mahJ exhibition tell the story of Salonika from the second half of the 19th century to the end of the First World War.
Historian Catherine Pinguet, curator for the exhibition, presented the photographic collection, which covers all the techniques and media used by professional and amateur photographers of the period. Books, illustrated newspapers, magazines, maps and ephemera (brochures, invoices, advertisements, etc.) complete the collection.
The exhibition is sponsored by the European Days of Jewish Culture 2023, a project funded under the Citizens, Equality, Rights and Values Programme of the European Commission. Learn more about this exhibition at the mahJ website.