Thus, Jews, who had never made up more than half of one percent of the population of Yugoslavia, had become only a tiny minority within a multi-national socialist state.
Jewish settlements in Macedonia and Dalmatia date back as far as Greek and Roman days, and small communities existed in Slovenia and Serbia in medieval times, but the first major wave of Jewish immigration to the South Slav lands came as a result of the expulsion of the Jews from Christian Spain in 1492.
In the second half of the nineteenth century, however, gradual changes started to take place.
Little has been written about the history of women in former Yugoslavia and even less is as yet known about the history of Jewish women in the Balkans.
Before 1918 the South Slav lands of the Western Balkans did not share a common history, having been divided for centuries between Ottoman and Habsburg spheres of influence.
Substantial Jewish communities developed in Zagreb and Osijek in Croatia-Slavonia and Novi Sad and Subotica in the Vojvodina; there were also many smaller towns with significant Jewish populations.
During the interwar years, there were 114 organized Jewish communities in Yugoslavia; 38 were Sephardi; 70, Ashkenazi-Neologue; and 6, Ashkenazi-Orthodox.
As the century progressed, increasing numbers of women never married or remained childless.
On the whole, Sephardi women’s lives most closely resembled the pattern set by their Jewish sisters elsewhere in the former Ottoman Empire, but they were also influenced somewhat by the customs of their Serbian Orthodox or Muslim neighbors.
They were freer to move around and looked after household matters themselves.
Divorced women found themselves in a difficult position and were not fully accepted.
Religious piety formed an integral part of their lives and traditional Jewish customs were strictly observed.
Mothers, even if illiterate, passed on to their children a love and reverence for their faith, their home and their tradition.
The creation of Yugoslavia after World War I brought together in one political unit Eastern Orthodox Serbs, Macedonians, and Montenegrins; Roman Catholic Croats and Slovenes; and Muslim Bosnians, as well as many non-Slavic minorities, including Germans, Hungarians, Albanians, and two distinct groups of Jews, the Sephardim of the former Ottoman territories, and the Ashkenazim of the erstwhile Habsburg lands.