Jews of Sarajevo and Their Place in the Ottoman Society of Bosnia
University of Sarajevo, Institute of Oriental Studies, Sarajevo/BOSNIA and HERZEGOVINA
Keywords: Sarajevo, Jews, trade, economy, society
The first reports about presence of Jews in Sarajevo are dated to the middle of 16th century since when they started gradually to integrate into economic and social streams in Sarajevo and Bosnia. It is very probable that they initially were settling on individual basis as merchants and just only from the beginning of 17th century they start to settle with families and organize as residential community. Choosing of Sarajevo was also a result of pressure that was imposed upon Jews in Dubrovnik, Venice and other merchant places of the West. Since then reports about Jews in Bosnia and their activities are more frequent, and in 17th century they constituted a distinguished economic community in Sarajevo with significant investment in business connection to Dubrovnik and Venice. Their primary occupation in relations with the West was trade followed by banking business. Research results show that at least 22% of Jews in Sarajevo performed some kind of trade, what is very high percentage if we take into account size of the community. This enabled Jews to position themselves in the most elite part of Sarajevo and they are the only social community that as a whole has lived in the most elite economic and professional area of the city. Towards the end of Ottoman rule, Jews of Sarajevo have been transformed into very respectable community that had 9% of share in the whole population of the city. Analysing some sources we see that they used 30% of storerooms and 16% of shops in the biggest trading buildings what additionally shows how important was their share in the economy of the city.