The United States Commission for the Preservation of America's Heritage Abroad has published a survey of Jewish Historic Monuments and Sites in Bulgaria, including information on the location, history and condition of synagogues and cemeteries. Some of this material has been posted on the website Jewish Heritage Europe and has circulated in other formats, but its has never been assembled in easy access and illustrated report form. The Commission report is posted in two parts.
Jewish Historic Monuments and Sites in Bulgaria, Part 1
Jewish Historic Monuments and Sites in Bulgaria, Part 2
The survey includes information from several sources, including my own visits, to synagogues and former synagogues in Burgas (Bourgas), Dupnitsa (Dupnica), Gotze Delchev (formerly Nevrokop), Haskovo, Pazardjik, Plovdiv, Ruse (Ruosse), Samokov, Sofia, Varna, Vidin, Yambol (Iambol). The synagogues of Sofia and Plovdiv have been restored in recent years and continue as religious and cultural centers. Many former synagogue,s however, such as those in Vidin, Varna and Samakov survive as only as ruins.
The most substantial part of the report includes mostly unknown and unpublished results and photographs from site visits by teams organized by the Jewish Community of Bulgaria to cemeteries in Burgas (Bourgas), Chirpan (Shirpan), Dupnitsa (Dupnica), Gotze Delchev (formerly Nevrokop) , Haskovo, Karnobat, Kazanlak, Kyustendil, Lom, Pazardjik, Pleven, Plovdiv, Ruse (Rousse), Samokov, Shumen (Kolarovgrad, 1950 – 1966), Silistra, Sliven, Sofia, Varna, Vidin, and Yambol (Iambol).
While some of these cemeteries are well maintained, most have suffered significant damage from vandalism and neglect. For further information about any of these sites researchers should contact the Organization of Jews in Bulgaria - Shalom (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Many people worked on the survey of Jewish sites. In 2003, historical research was prepared as a section of an overview of various ethnic and religious minority historic and artistic sites in Bulgaria
by Professors Mark Stefanovich and Evelina Kelbetcheva of the American University in Bulgaria. A second part of the survey took place in 2005 and 2006 and included site visits, descriptions, and extensive photography of Jewish cemeteries. The Organization of the Jews in Bulgaria, “Shalom,” carried out this stage of the work. Becca Lazarova arranged for the survey on behalf of “Shalom.” On several visits to Bulgaria in 2003 and 2004 I made site visits to the synagogues and Jewish cemeteries in Sofia, Plovdiv, Varna, and Vidin. Becca Lazarova in Sofia and Boris Yakov in Varna were gracious hosts.
While some time has passed since the initial draft of this report and its first circulation in 2007, the situation reported has not, to my knowledge, changed in any significant way. Several important former synagogue remains ruined and without purpose, and cemeteries throughout the country are ruined intentionally by treasure hunters, and naturally by neglect. Despite their best intentions, the small Jewish community in Bulgaria has limited people and money to address these problems.