Greeks bear gifts as country’s abandoned synagogues are restored

SOMETHING is changing in Greece. The Jewish heritage sites once abandoned or demolished or serving other uses are now sheduled for reconstruction and reuse as synagogues, nearly 80 years after the Holocaust.

Jewish communities — the Greek-speaking Romaniotes — were established in Greece in antiquity in cities such as Ioannina and Halkis.

Sephardi communities were established after 1492 in important Jewish centres such as Salonika (Thessaloniki) and throughout Greece — from Corfu to Rhodes and from Didimoticho to Crete.

In the Holocaust, 87 per cent of the Jewish community in Greece perished. The destruction took a heavy toll on Jewish heritage as well.

Synagogues, libraries, community buildings, Jewish schools and Jewish clubs were either demolished or taken over by other organisations.

Important synagogues in Salonika were demolished, while in November, 1943, the ancient Jewish cemetery of the city, with valuable marble tombstones, was turned into construction material.

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