There are two new books out (not widely published yet) about the history of Salonica’s Jewish community
; "The Jewish Community of Salonika: History, Memory, Identity" by Bea Lewkowicz and "Traditions & Customs of the Sephardic Jews of Salonica" by Michael Molho. Molho is also the author of "In Memoriam", the first book written about the Greek Jews killed in the camps; for years it was the only book written about this chapter of the Holocaust. Rabbi Molho was one of Salonica's treasures.
Born in Salonica in 1890, Rabbi Molho was descended from a line of distinguished rabbis and was himself trained at Salonica’s Bet Yosef rabbinical seminary. After the death of his father, Molho was obliged to interrupt his rabbinical career; in the 1920s, he opened what would become one of the most important textile factories in Greece. At the same time, he became secretary general of the main Zionist organization in Greece, edited a popular Ladino daily, and independently began conducting research and producing scholarship on the history of Jewish Salonica. Among his early forays into this topic was his study of the extraordinary Jewish cemetery in Salonica, which once held hundreds of thousands of graves. The library he gathered, looted by the German occupying forces in April 1941, contained more than 500 rare volumes.
Molho himself managed to escape German-occupied Greece for the Italian-occupied eastern coast, his unpublished manuscripts and documentation in tow. There, and in the mountain town of Kieramidi, he waited out the war with the help of the Greek resistance. In late 1945, Molho was installed as chief rabbi of the Jewish community of Salonica. Five years later, he dolefully left his hometown, where the Jewish community was but a shadow of its former self, to assume a rabbinical position in Buenos Aires.
Molho’s dedication to recording the history of Salonican Jewry is astonishing not only because of his prescience and doggedness but also in light of the Sephardic cultural climate of this period. In interwar Eastern Europe, Jewish intellectuals embarked on a concerted effort to study, document and preserve elements of Jewish life, the Yiddish language among them; arguably the greatest achievement of this circle was the creation of the Yiddish Scientific Institute, in Vilna, in 1925. In the Sephardic heartland of Southeastern Europe, no parallel intellectual or academic movement existed. Molho was not without peer: One of the most important historical sources on the history of Salonican Jewry, Joseph Nehama’s magisterial, seven-volume “Histoire des Israélites de Salonique” (World Sephardi Federation, 1959) was also begun in the interwar period. Still, Nehama and Molho labored largely alone, without the support of a formal institution, without formal training, without colleagues or financial assistance, and amid a climate in which the defense of Ladino and other markers of Sephardic difference was subdued if not nonexistent.