Zakynthos (Zante) is an island in the Ionian Sea and bears strong traces of Jewish presence.
In 1522 there were 30 Jewish families and a Synagogue in the island. Until 1712, the Community had two synagogues, the "Zante" Synagogue and the "Cretan" Synagogue, that took its name after the Jews from Crete who had settled in Zakynthos when Crete was occupied by the Ottomans in 1669. The "Zante" synagogue suffered serious damages during the earthquake that shook the Ionian Islands in 1953; the "Cretan" synagogue is completely ruined today.
During the Nazi Occupation, the Germans asked from the Mayor of the island, Mr Loukas Karrer, and from the Metropolitan Bishop, Chryssostomos, to hand them over the list of the Jews of Zakynthos. Thanks to the strong refusal of these two men to do so, the Jews were rescued, hiding in the remote villages of the island. In a gesture of gratitude, the Jews of Greece erected a monument in memory of the these two brave men in the area of the courtyard of the old Synagogue. One may visit this monument on 44 Tertseti Street.
Today Zakynthos no longer has a Jewish community, but the visitor may visit the cemetery, which is located in the Rouveli area, and includes gravestones of great historic significance.
Monument in honour of Mayor Loukas Karrer and the
Metropolitan Bishop Chryssostomos, in the area where
the Synagogue once stood
Exterior view of the former Synagogue of Zakynthos
Tombstones of Rabbis, in the Jewish cemetery of Zakynthos,
dating back in the 15th century