Estreya Haim Ovadiya-Mara

Portrait of Estreya Haim Ovadiya-Mara. Source:

Estreya was born on December 25, 1923 in a poor family from the Sephardic Jewish community in Bitola. The working class reality of her parents prompted her to early get involved in the trade union and working class organizations in her native city, as well as to work in the local humanitarian Jewish organizations, and with the help of the women’s Jewish society “Vizo”, she succeeded in getting an education in Belgrade.

Estreya came back to Bitola in 1941, in the midst of the raging anti-Semitic sentiment engulfing the Kingdom of Yugoslavia, only two years prior to the transport of the Bitola Jews to Treblinka. Upon her return, this class conscious young girl decided to join the resistance in 1943, when she got her partisan pseudonym Mara. As a young woman of twenty, she participated in several battles of the Macedonian partisan detachments. In the clash with the fascist troops on August 24, 1944 at the mountain summit Kaymakchalan, which represents the outpost of the city of Bitola, Estreya was shot and died as a result of it afterwards. At the site of battle today stands a memorial plaque with the names of the fallen in the battle.

Estreya became a paragon of solidarity and activism among the young Jews. The city of Bitola commemorates Estreya with a memorial bust in the city center in front of the Community Health Center, and in Jerusalem, in the vicinity of the Museum Yad Vashem, a street is named after her. In 1953, she was awarded the Order of the People’s Hero of Macedonia, which made her the only woman of Jewish descent who received this recognition from the 11 Jewish People’s Heroes in Yugoslavia.

The life story of Estreya Ovadiya is an example of how youthful rebellion and inclusion of young people in the work for raising the awareness about one’s own community can make significant changes in society.

Monument of the fighters in the Second World
War, Kaymakchaklan, peak of the mountain Nidze. Source: Welcome to Mariovo

Kaymakchaklan, peak of the mountain Nidze

Memorial Plaque dedicated to the soldiers fallen in the National Liberation and Anti-Fascist Struggle of Macedonia from the Seventh Brigade in the battle for Kaymakchalan on the mountain Nidze, near the Macedonian-Greek border. In the vicinity is the village Skochivir. It is accessible by off-road vehicles because of the unpaved road or hurdles in the mountainous route. It is not accessible for persons with a physical disability. Nearby is another memorial site, the Church “St. Peter”, memorial chapel dedicated to the soldiers fallen in combat in the First World War.