Jewish Heritage Europe

Heritage & Heritage Sites

GENERAL LINKS

The Forgotten Jews of Cyprus

Lengthy and informative article by Yadin Roman in Eretz magazine, in 2001, on the Margo agricultural community, with pictures of the cemetery.

A  Jewish Detective in Cyprus

Travel article by Judie Fein that discusses several Jewish sites in Cyprus.

The Jewish Traveler: Cyprus

Travel article that also highlights Jewish sites, by Esther Hecht in Hadassah Magazine.

INDIVIDUAL SITES

LARNACA

There is a small, walled Jewish cemetery in Larnaca near the airport. Dating from 1873 it contains about nine graves (the oldest legible from 1900) and while long abandoned is now still in use by the renewed Jewish community.

MARGO

Margo is located in North Cyprus. At the turn of the twentieth century, a group of Jewish families from Russia formed a society called Ahavat Zion (the Love of Zion) and established an agricultural community at Margo because of its proximity to Turkish-ruled Israel. The group had very little agricultural experience, but they were able to convince the Jewish Colonization Association (ICA) to fund their undertaking. 11,110 hectares of farmland was purchased in the Margo-Tchiflik area of Cyprus, and the first fifteen families arrived at the farm in 1897. The ICA built houses and farm buildings for the settlers, purchased seed and livestock and operated a school, synagogue, bakery and mill. But the heat, malaria-carrying mosquitoes and lack of cultural life drove most of the settlers to abandon the project within the first couple of years. Ahavat Zion was forgotten and the land became the responsibility of the ICA.

New settlers were recruited from among graduates of the Mikveh Yisrael Agricultural School on the outskirts of Jaffa, where conditions were similar to those in Cyprus. The new group joined the five remaining families and established more successful farming practices. As conditions at the settlement began to stabilise, more Jews from Europe began to arrive. By the early 1920s, some 189 settlers were spread across Margo, Chumlchuk (now Comlekci), and Kouklia (now Koprulu). In 1923 the ICA finally decided that the Jewish agricultural communities in Cyprus had little long-term future and – after a brief respite during the First World War – cut off their funding. Of the 169 Jews that remained, most went to Israel. The last of the Cyprus settlers left by the end of the 1950s and the last Jewish burial at the Margo cemetery was in 1960.

Jewish Cemetery

The Jewish cemetery in Margo is all that remains of this short-lived Jewish community. It is located in a Turkish military zone, and access has been barred since 1992. The graves in the cemetery are in two groups. The older ones from the original Jewish Colonization Association (ICA) settlements are located near the entrance, and those of the 20th-century settlers are on the other side of the cemetery. Many of the tombstones are broken, and their condition is deteriorating, but their Hebrew inscriptions are still legible. The last burial was in July 1960.

The Forgotten Jews of Cyprus

Lengthy and informative article by Yadin Roman in Eretz magazine on the Margo agricultural community, with pictures of the cemetery.