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GUMURJINA:

Town in European Turkey, west of Adrianople. It has a population of 26,000, including 1,200 Jews. The Jewish community possesses separate schools for boys and girls with a roll of 200 children, a synagogue, and five charitable societies. A few Jewish artisans dwell in Gumurjina, but the majority of Jews there live by commerce, and several fill public offices. The community is administered by a council of twelve, but is without an appointed rabbi. Religious questions are addressed to the grand rabbinate of Adrianople.

According to local traditions, the foundation of the Jewish community of Gumurjina goes back to the first half of the seventeenth century. The earliest chief rabbi of the city was Rab Judah, said to have died in 1673. In times of distress the Jews go to his tomb to pray. A proof of the presence of Jews in this town at that epoch is the fact that Nathan of Gaza, the acolyte of the pseudo-Messiah Shabbethai Ẓebi, fled there after the conversion of his master to Islam. About the year 1786 an incident occurred that placed the Jews of Gumurjina in grave peril. Motos-Agha, at the head of the brigands who infested the neighboring mountains, won possession of the fort, and when the governor, Ali Effendi, recaptured it, he accused the Jews of having favored the brigands, and threw the most prominent among them into prison. They, however, succeeded in proving the falsity of the accusation and were restored to liberty. In memory of this double deliverance from siege and imprisonment the Jews of Gumurjina observe the 22d day of Elul as a festival under the name of the "Brigands' Purim." Up to 1865 this festival was celebrated with great solemnity; but the arrival of new Jewish settlers who were strangers to the tradition has caused the custom to fall into comparative disuse, though the older inhabitants still maintain it.

Bibliography:
  • Yo⋅ef Da'at, ed. Abraham Danon, Adrianople, Dec. 20, 1888.
D. M. Fr.
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