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Jews lived in Bulgaria during the 2nd century C.E. By the end of the 12th century the Jews controlled Bulgarian trade with Venice. In 1335, King Ivan Alexander married a Jewish woman named Sarah, who on her baptism took the name Theodora. Her son Ivan Sisman III came to the throne in 1346, and continued his mother’s amiable attitude to the Jewish population. Bulgaria was conquered by Turkey in 1389, and soon became a haven for Jewish refugees from the Spanish Inquisition. Since then, the majority of Bulgarian Jews have been Sephardim. During World War II, the Nazis exterminated the majority of the Jews of Bulgaria. Of the few Jews who survived at the end of the war, the majority emigrated to Israel in the mass exodus of 1949. After the fall of communism in 1989, the community was reconstituted. Currently, there are about 3,000 Jews in Bulgaria.

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