Social services for Nazi victims have been supported by a grant from the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany.
Funds have been provided by the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany for the Emergency Assistance Program for Nazi Victims at the direction of the United States District Court supervising the lawsuit In RE: Holocaust Victim Assets Litigation (Swiss Banks).

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HISTORY Print E-mail
Friday, 26 June 2009 11:18
 HISTORICAL BACKGROUND
The first Greek Jew known by name was "Moschos, son of Moschion the Jew", a slave identified in an inscription dated approximately 300 - 250 B.C. found in Oropos, a small coastal town between Athens and Boeotia. It could be assumed that as a result of frequent Jewish movement through Greece a Jewish Community was eventually established. This community is believed to have grown further after the Hasmonean uprising (142 B.C.) when many Jews were sold into slavery in Greece.
 
 In the early Christian era, the fact that Paul the Apostle, upon his arrival in Greece, preached in the Jewish Synagogues in Athens, Corinth, Veria, Kavala (Philipus) gives proof of the existence of many Jewish Communities in this Country.
 

Menorah incised in marble. It was found in the Ancient Market of Athens and it is dated since 500 A.D.

Benjamin of Tudela, the 12th century traveller, states that in his time there were Jews in Corfu, Arta, Aphilon, Patras, Lepanto, Corinth, Thebes, Chalkis, Salonika (Thessaloniki), Drama and other localities. Jews also lived on the islands of Lesbos, Chios, Samos, Rhodes and Cyprus. He found the largest community in Thebes, where there were 2.000 Jews , while in Salonika there were only 500. They ranged between 20 - 400 in other towns. They were engaged mostly in cloth dyeing, weaving and the making of silk garments. These Greek Jews were known as Romaniote and had developed their own customs and language (Judeo-Greek). Remnants of this unique tradition survived to our days.

From the end of the 14th century Jewish refugees emigrated from Spain and Portugal to the Greek mainland and adjacent islands. Mainly in Thessaloniki, as well as in towns such as Trikala, Larissa and Volos, the Jews known as the Shephardim introduced their own language (Judeo-Espagnol) and customs.

During the 16th-18th centuries
, Thessaloniki had one of the largest Jewish Communities in the World and a solid rabbinical tradition. On the island of Crete, the Jews played an important part in the transport trade. The island was also famed of its rabbis and scholars.

During World War II, when Greece was occupied by Nazi Germany, 86% of the Greek Jews perished owing to enemy actions, extermination and execution, and in many cities where prosperous Jewish Communities existed, only a few individuals remained. Out of 77.377 Greek Jews, only 10.000 survived the Holocaust.
 
Nowadays there exist 9 active Jewish Communities: Athens, Thessaloniki, Larissa, Chalkis, Volos, Corfu, Trikala, Ioannina, Rhodes. In the former three Communities, Synagogues hold services regularly. In the latter six, Synagogues are open only during the Yamim Noraim and Pessah. There are also Synagogues located in Greek cities where no Jewish Communities exist. These are interesting for historical and archaeological reasons. In some other places there are ruins of Synagogues. The most interesting is the mosaic floor of a Synagogue of the early Christian era in the island of Aegina. The floor is kept on the site of the local Museum.                                 


Holocaust Memorial in Volos
                                                                             

The
Jewish Museum of Greece, founded in Athens in 1977, preserves the heritage of the Greek Jewry. Its collection includes religious and ceremonial artefacts, costumes, old photographs and documents testifying the presence of a flourishing Jewish Community.







The Ehal of the renovated Synagogue of Chania, Crete



COMMUNITY ORGANISATION

The umbrella organisation of the Greek Jewry is the Central Board of Jewish Communities in Greece (Greek abbreviation: KIS). KIS was established by law in 1945, after the end of the World War II. It is a "Legal Body Under State Law", under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Education and Religion. The aim of the Central Board (KIS) is to co-ordinate the activities and represent the Jewish Communities that function in Greece before the Greek Authorities and foreign Organisations.



The Throne of Moses in the remains of the Synagogue of Delos Island.
Josephus mentions the existence of a community in Delos in the 1st century B.C.
 

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