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Athens - photo taken by Ted Margulis

Jewish life in Greece dates back 2400 years. The first Greek Jew whose name is known was "Moschos, son of Moschion the Jew," a slave identified in an inscription dated to approximately 300 BCE-250 BCE. This information was found in an inscription unearthed in Oropos, a small coastal town between Athens and Bocotia. Jews later became traders, craftspeople, farmers and silk growers. When the Romans gave the Jewish community autonomy, the Jews became known as Romaniotes, some of whose descendants still live in Greece today.

Out of 77,377 Jews living in Greece, before WW II, only 10,000 survived the Holocaust.

Remains of an ancient Greek Synagogue


"Illusions of Safety"
Authored by Michael Matsas tells us of the duplicity of the American government, but it also includes stories of Greek Jews and how they fared during WW II and the Holocaust. The book is available through the Kehila Kedosha Janina Synagogue Museum

"Jewish Sites and Synagogues of Greece"
Authored by Nicholas Stavroulakis and Timothy DeVinney and published by Talos Press. Excellent introduction to Jewish travelers.

"Legacy of Courage"
Authored by Dr. Frederic Kakis. Most Holocaust survival stories are based on characters who, by the grace of God, survived the horrors of the Death Camps and were able to describe the brutality and torture they had have endured as well as the fate of million of other innocent victims that died in the gas chambers.

This book describes a very different survival story. It is the tale of a Jewish family during German occupation of Greece, who decided early on, that the best way to escape deportation and ultimately survive was to resist. It is a story of intrigue, courage and adventure at time humorous, at times sad, but always interesting and exciting.
ISBN 1-4017-1358-X Paperback

"War-Time Jews: The Case of Athens" - (Eliamep)
A brief monograph on why and how Greeks rescued Jews in Athens in WW II.

General Greece


Greece is the home of the longest continuous Jewish presence in the European Diaspora, going back 2,300 years. The Jews who first settled in Greece, called themselves Romaniotes and preserved their distinctive synagogue rites, liturgy and dress long after Sephardic Jews -- expelled from Spain and Portugal -- became the majority.

Jewish communities existed in Thessaly, Beoetia, Macedonia, Aetolia, Attica, Argos, Corinth, and throughout much of the Peloponnese, and on the islands of Euboea and Crete. There were synagogues in Philippi, Thessalonica, Veroia, Athens and Corinth. Benjamin (Ben Jonah) of Tudela, a Jewish traveler of the second half of the twelfth century, visited Jewish communities in Corfu, Arta, Patras, Corinth, Thebes, Egripo (Halkida) Salonika and Drama.

More than 65,000 Jews were murdered during the Holocaust. Only 13% of the population survived.

There is a synagogue in New York, the Kehila Kedosha Janina, which is located on Manhattan's Lower East Side
280 Broome Street (off of Allen St.)
New York 10002
Fax:1 212 673 4441
The only synagogue in the Western hemisphere, built by the Jews in 1927, and still operating today

At this site, there is a great deal of information, in a Newsletter format including info on: Congregation Kehila Kedosha Janina 'The Janina Cemetery' located in Ioannina; The Museum (Open 11 a.m. to 4 p. m. on Sundays or by appointment) including a list of over 200 names of the rescuers of Greek Jews in Yad Vashem's archives; Romaniote Piyuttim (poems); Corfu Holocaust Memorial; and more.

There is an article printed in the January/February 2001 issue of The Jewish Monthly, published by B'nai Brith, that offers a great deal of information about these Jews.

The Association of Friends of Greek Jewry (AFGJ)

An organization established to help preserve what is left of the Jewish presence in Greece. Marcia Haddad Ikonomopoulos is the AFGJ president.

 ETSI - Sephardi Genealogical and Historical Society

The purpose of "ETSI" is to help people interested in Jewish Genealogical and Historical Research in the Sephardi World. "ETSI's" field of study covers the Ottoman Empire (Turkey, Greece, Palestine, Syria, Libya, Egypt); North Africa (Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia); Spain, Portugal, Italy and Gibraltar. The study of every Sephardi community or family who lived in other regions is equally within the society's aim


Business 2 business company directory and business in Europe, yellow pages access, international and European business directory (professional services, addresses and business classifieds

Greek Jewish Hero of War Memorialized


Jews of Greece - History and Demography


Kol ha Kehila: the Newsletter of the Jewish Monuments in Greece





A valuable site to help find a person, maps, etc. Type in the name of any country you wish to research. This service is free.

Global Gazetteer
A great web site. It is a directory of 2,880,532 of the world's cities and towns, sorted by country and linked to a map for each town. A tab separated list is available for each country


Open Street Maps
The crowd-sourced mapping project OpenStreetMap has amassed a million contributors since its inception in 2005 and, according to navigation app maker Skobbler, boasts greater accuracy in England, Russia and Germany than rivals such as Google Maps.  I tried the site and found an accurate drawing of my father's ancestral town Tal'ne, Ukraine.  Almost every country is available as is most towns

Museums of Athens (The Small)


"Preserving Jewish Heritage in Greece"

An interesting site featuring an article detailing, from an archaeological view, remnants of Jewish life in ancient and recent times in Greece

Romaniote Jews 

Pronounced roe-MAH-ni-ote, currently number somewhere around 8 to 10,000 people worldwide. This is a virtually unknown minority barely known by most Jews. A book, "The Jews of Ioannina", published by Cadmus Press in 1990 and authored by Rae Dalven, herself a Romaniote Jew, maintains that the first Jews settled near what was eventually called Ioannina (Janina), Greece, in 70 C.E. after the destruction of the Second Temple in Jerusalem. The Romaniotes are the original Jewish population of the eastern Mediterranean and the Balkans and have lived in the area since antiquity.

The story told is that the Roman emperor, Titus, after capturing Jerusalem, was transporting Jews to Rome, to serve as slaves, when his ship was driven onto the Albanian coast. Titus, instead of killing the Jews, allowed them to fend for themselves. Before WW II, the Jewish community in Janina numbered around 1,850; after there were 163 and today 51 Jews still live in the town. They speak their own Judeo-Greek language and have their own customs and foods. They call themselves "Yinotes" - people from Janin.

Sephardic Sites


Translating Services - Languages

LingvoSoft Dictionary software English <-> Yiddish for Windows - 400,000 words
With this LingvoSoft smart dictionary software on your computer, you can easily switch between English and Yiddish, (as well as Italian or Greek to English) for prompt translations of 400,000 words both ways! Download Free Trial now

There are many translating services, some for free, available to help with your translating needs in most languages including Italian and Greek. One of these sites is

Just in case you didn't think of it, contact a nearby university or college's foreign language department. They may offer to write letters and translate letters into English. A nominal fee is usually charged.

Translation Service
A commercial site offering many language translating programs

Yizkor Books

Pinkas Hakehillot, Yavan (Encyclopaedia of Jewish Communities in Greece)

Cities and Towns of Greece


The Jews of Greece's largest city were integrated into the Greek community and because of this fact, it helped save many of the Jews from the Nazis. Today, it is the largest Jewish community and dates from the first century C.E. After the sixth century, Jewish life left, and in 1705, the city had 20 Jewish families, the descendants of exiles from Spain. In 1834, after the Greek War of Independence against the Ottoman Empire (1821-1829) it attracted some families from Germany. In 1917, after the Balkan Wars and especially after the great Thessalonica fire, more Jews came to Athens.

Several attempts were made by the Germans to deport the Jews, but were thwarted by the Greek community by hiding Jews in their homes. Unfortunately, 1,500 Athenian Jews were deported. After the war, there were about 5,000 Jews in Athens; of these, 1,500 later emigrated to Israel.

Beth Shalom Synagogue
Athens 'old' synagogue and is at
5 Melidoni
Telephone 325 2773
Rabbi is Jacob Arar, chief rabbi of Athens since 1968.

A site in the ancient Greek agora (marketplace) is said to be a synagogue from the third century, destroyed in the sixth century. Nearby are Athens' two surviving synagogues facing each other on Melidoni Street in Thission, a neighborhood once populated by Jews.

The Central Board of Jewish Communities in Greece
36 Voulis
Athens 10557
Telephone 324 4315

Etz Hayim Synagogue
Built in 1904, is at 8 Melidoni. It is also known as the 'Ioanniotiki Synagogue (i.e. Jews from Ioannina). To visit, contact the Athens Jewish Community on the ground floor (325-2773)

Part of the Jewish Cemetery in Athens

Jewish Cemetery
Located on Agios Giorgiou and is part of the city's Third Cemetery in the Nikea quarter has a memorial to the Jewish soldiers who died in the Greco-Italian War, 1940-41 and another to the Jewish communities of Greece destroyed by the Nazis in WW II. It has been in continuous use since the 1940s.

The Jewish Club
Headed by Rachel Raphael-Sasson, holds lectures, Hebrew classes and community gatherings and is located at
9 Vissarionos, corner Sina;
Telephone 360 8896.
Rachel can be reached at 211 3371
Cell Phone: 094 452 1848

Jewish Museum of Greece
Founded in 1977, the museum has artifacts from more than two millennia, reflecting the life, customs, rites and traditions of Greek Jews.
39 Nikis (near Syntagma Square)
Telephone 30-210-322 5582; fax 323 1577;
Interesting and colorful site

Nea Genia (New Generation)
Reports Jewish news countrywide



There is a Jewish presence today. It is located on the Island of Eubea


An island in the Aegean Sea that at one time had a Jewish Community. Also review my Rhodes information. Search this site for information

Euboca (Evia)

A one hour bus ride northeast of Athens and is an island where the Jews of Chalkis (today Chalkida) claim theirs is the oldest Jewish community in Europe, dating back to the Second Temple period. There are about 150 members and they have a white stucco synagogue and community headquarters at 35 Kotsou as well as a cemetery on Mesapion Street. Some graves are as old as 1539. Jossif Ovadia can arrange a visit to the synagogue and cemetery. Telephone 0221 74567 or 24990



"List of Jews Deported From Florina by the Nazis"

"Florina, Remembrance of a Forgotten Community"

"Florina - Nostalgia de Una Communidad Olvidada"


There is a Jewish presence today.


There is a Jewish presence


Once had a Romaniote synagogue. The carved wooden interior is now located in the Jewish Museum of Athens.

 Salonika (Thessalonica)

"A Jew From Salonica"

Thessaloniki (Greek: Θεσσαλονίκη [θesalonici], historically also known as Thessalonica, Salonika or Salonica, is the second-largest city in Greece and the capital of the periphery of Central Macedonia[2] as well as the capital of the Decentralized Administration of Macedonia and Thrace.[3] Its honorific title is Συμπρωτεύουσα (Symprotévousa), literally "co-capital",[4] a reference to its historical status as the Συμβασιλεύουσα (Symvasilévousa) or "co-reigning" city of the Byzantine Empire, alongside Constantinople.[5]

When the Jews of Spain were expelled centuries ago, by Ferdinand and Isabella, a goodly number of them found refuge in Greece. The city of Salonika became one of the most prosperous Jewish centers.

Territorial shifts in the Balkans throughout the early twentieth century brought changes in the composition and character of the Jewish communities of Greece. Salonika, a Jewish city throughout Ottoman times, became part of Greece in 1913 after the Balkans Wars weakened the Ottoman Empire strategically and territorially. During the 16th century, the city was known as the "Jerusalem of the Balkans".

In 1900 there were approximately 80,000 Jews out of a total population of 173,000. There were 31 Jewish communities in Greece, during the 1930s. The largest, in Salonika, had more than 50,000 people and no fewer than 60 synagogues and midrashim (oratories) to serve a diverse population with roots all across the Mediterranean and Eastern Europe. On April 9, 1941,the Nazi army occupied the city and in early 1943, the Germans annihilated 87 percent of the country's Jews (48.500) and destroyed most of the synagogues. Ninety five percent of the Salonikan Jewish population were deported to concentration camps.

One thousand of Greece's 5,000 Jews live here today. The synagogue has a regular Minyan. Before WWII, there were more than 20 Zionist organizations in the city.

Andrea Sefiha was the President of Salonika's Jewish Community as of 4/2000 As of 2008, David Saltiel is the President. A photograph of the interior of the Italia Synagogue of Salonika and the exterior of the Monastirlis synagogue are available at

There is the Thessalonica Community Archives (1913-1946) at this site.
Central Archives for the History of the Jewish People (CAHJP

A Holocaust memorial was established in this city. Nearly 90 percent of Greece's 80,000 strong pre-war Jewish community perished in Nazi death camps.
In July, 1942, the Jewish Community was forced to pay several million to the Nazis to ransom Jewish men who were forced into working for the Germans, with the understanding that they would be freed later and the community would be left alone. Predictably, 46,091 Jews from Salonika were later deported to the death camps.

"The Holocaust in Salonika - Eyewitness Accounts"
The first official witness of the final solution to the Salonikan Jews. Yomtov Yacoel was the lawyer for the community and liaison with the Nazi civilian representatives. Dr. Matarasso was the post-war physician for the survivors in Salonika. His report includes the earliest eyewitness stores of the fate of the Jews in Auschwitz. Dr. Isaac Benmayor translated the text from the original Greek and Judeo-Spanish and St4een B. Bowman did the editing.

"Icaroon Salonie: Gedulata ve-Hurbana Shel Yerushalim de-Balkan; Grandeza i Destruyicion de Yerushalim del Balken" (In Memoriam of Salonike) 

Jewish Museum

Jewish Women of Salonika

"Matsevot Saloniki"
Authored by Isaac Samuel Emmanuel and published in Hebrew in 1963-58.  Contains 1,858 inscriptions taken from the Jewish cemetery in Thessalonike (Salonika), Greece, one of the largest and oldest Sephardic communities in Europe before the Holocaust. A copy exists in the UCLA Library

When the port of Haifa was built under the British Mandate in the early 1930s, Abba Khoushi wanted Jewish laborers to do the work. The future mayor persuaded some 500 Jewish dockworkers from Thessalonica to come. Thus they were spared the fate of their compatriots, most of whom died in Nazi concentration camps.

Thessalonica (see Salonika)


There is a Jewish presence today.


There is a Jewish presence today.


Ponte Vecchio Bridge - Jews own(ed) many of the shops located on this bridge

Jews were known to live in Italy from the days of the Maccabees, but the best years for Jews was during the time of Lorenzo de Medici (1437 to 1494). In an article in the December issue of Hadassah Magazine, the writer (Aelion Brooks) states that "As many as 50 percent of southern Italians may have Jewish blood, notes Vincenzo Villella, author of The Jews of Calabria. Jewish intellectual life blossomed in the rich achievements of the Italian culture. During this period, Jewish literature, poetry and learning flourished, even though the Medici duke, named Cosimo I, banished the Jews to ghettos. The community was enriched in the late 15th and 16th centuries by Sephardic refugees from Spain and Portugal and also over the centuries by Ashkenazi newcomers from Central Europe.

An article, written by Andree Aelion Brooks, offers more detailed information about the Jews of Italy and can be found in the December 2008 issue of Hadassah Magazine.

Jewish communities flourished in South Italy during the Roman time and the Middle Ages. After the persecutions (1492-1541) Jews abandoned South Italy and also Sicily. The area south of Naples was once a separate nation called the Kingdom of Naples and teemed with Jewish artisans and merchants during Roman times and for more than 1,000 years thereafter, when it served as the geographic center of Mediterranean commerce. Jews, however, were expelled while Spain ruled the area in the 16th century -- unless they agreed to convert, which some did, taking their Judaism underground. Today the only community in South Italy is Napoli (Naples), and few Jews live in the southern part of the country (Sicily and Puglia). In 2009, the Rabbi is Pier Paulo Punturello, who represents the Orthodox Jews of Naples. For these reasons it is very difficult to research on Jews of South Italy: most resources are not in Communities and most documents concern oldest times.

The first ghetto was located in Venice, which is north of Florence and existed from 1516 to 1797. Ghetto, the word, originated in Venice. It is easy to find the ghetto and I would suggest you 'get lost' purposely in this part of the city. The area is called 'the Cannaregio district'. The various Jewish ethnic groups that settled in the ghetto nearly five centuries ago, lived in extremely crowded conditions and preserved their identities in their cuisine.

The ghetto was a lively, dynamic melting pot of distinctly different European and Mediterranean cultures, including Jews from other areas of Italy including Sicily and Calabria, Spain, Portugal, Germany and the Ottoman Empire. In the district, one would hear many distinct languages spoken, including German, Portuguese, Spanish, Turkish, Hebrew, Yiddish and Giudeo-Veneziano, the Jewish-Venetian dialect that survived into the 21st century.

Amos Luzzatto is the president of the Union of Italian Jewish Communities, located in Rome. Dr. Riccardo Di Segni, a practicing physician and rabbi, is the new chief rabbi of Rome replacing Elio Toaff, who retired at age 86 after 50 years in Italy's most prominent Jewish religious post.. Leone Paserman is the president of the 15,000 member community.

Jews lived in many small towns during the past two millennia, and often left their traces in hundreds of towns, cities and villages up and down the peninsula including remnants of synagogues and cemeteries. Some 8,000 Italian Jews were deported to their deaths in the Holocaust. Today, the small Italian Jewish community consists of about 38,000 souls. The total population of Italy is 60 million.

Annie Sacerdoti, a Jewish writer based in Milan, wrote a Jewish guidebook to Italy in 1986 and, throughout the 1990s, edited a series of separate guide books dedicated to Jewish heritage in individual Italian regions. She is the editor of Milan's monthly Jewish magazine, Il Bullettino

Thousands of Libyan Jews fled the country in 1967 and many arrived in Italy.  They were fleeing because of the fallout of the six-day war

Centro Primo Levi
This site offers resources on Italian Jewish culture and history, recommendations of books and films; links to libraries and museums, information on public programs, updates from the academia and a monthly newsletter. Our programs are held at different venues throughout New York

"For Them, Life in America Began in 1944, Behind a Fence".
It is about a group of about 1,000 Jews brought to the US from Italy in 1944 and kept in an internment camp in upstate New York for seven months after the war was over until President Truman allowed them to apply for citizenship. The article mentions the emotions of the US official charged with choosing who would be allowed to travel on the ship. I believe a free registration is required to view articles on the NY Times web site
From a posting by Andrew Blumberg

St Marks Square 1900

National Resources Links

The Jews of Sicily and Calabria
The Italian Anusim That Nobody Knows - personal stories, history and current research

The University of Salento has a Jewish studies program



"Finding Italian Roots: The Complete Guide for Americans"
Authored by John Philip Colletta and published by Genealogical Publishing Co., in 1993 in Baltimore

"Guide to Jewish Italy"

Authored by Annie Sacerdoti and published in 1989. a systematic survey of Jewish settlements in Italy, broken down first by region, then by city. Describes the synagogues, museums, cemeteries and other cultural or historical sites for each location listed. Includes numerous photographs, a bibliography, a glossary and an index.

"History of the Jews in Italy"
Authored by Cecil Roth. In his book, he states that "While Jews may have settled in Rome in the third century BCE, it was the Maccabees' successful revolt against the Syrian king Antiochus in the second century BCE that put the community on the map." The festival of Hanukah was established on the 25th of Kislev, 165 BCE, when Judah Maccabee, his brothers and his volunteer army held a ceremony to rededicate the Temple after their victory."

"Only four years later, in 161 BCE, Judah sent a diplomatic mission to Rome in an attempt to forge an alliance against the Syrians and preserve the Jews' precarious independence. "it was natural to solicit the sympathy and support of the great new power in the west." Check with my link to Amazon.com for this and other books on the subject by clicking here

"Jewish Family Names and their Origin"
Authored by Eva H. Guggenheimer - 1992

"The Jews of Calabria"

"La Comunita Ebraica di Pitigliano dal XVI al XX Secolor"
Authored by R. G. Salvadori, Giuntina, Firenze in 1991. There is an index of about nine pages and a short family trees of some families from Pitigliano, Italy for the period 1880-1960

"Mangiare alla Giudia" (Eating the Jewish Way)
Authored by Ariel Toaff, a professor at Bar-Ilan University, who is the son of Rome's chief rabbi. It is not a cookbook and does not include recipes. Rather, it details the history and development of Italian Jewish cuisine from the Renaissance to modern times

"Memoirs Of A Jewish Italian Holocaust Refugee"
Authored by Steven C. Levi and available on Kindle

Jewish Genealogy In Italy

Concentration Camps in Italy (See Holocaust page)

Cities and Towns of Italy

Almost every small town of southern Italy and Sicily has a street named "della Sinagoga" or "della Scuola" or "Judecca", or something that otherwise refers to the existence of Jews there, even though there may not have been any Jews present there since the late fifteen or early sixteen century



There was a Jewish presence in the 18th century. An account dating from 1683 indicated that the "rich" matzo baked in this Adriatic port was so renowned for its quality that wealthy Jews in Venice spared no expense to import it for their Seder tables.

Campo degli Ebrei

One of the oldest Jewish cemeteries in Europe dating from 1428

Jewish Community

There is a Levantine synagogue in this port city where many of Marche's 200 Jews worship.


There was once a Jewish presence




There was once a Jewish presence in the city. It was also the site of the first university in Europe to offer a Jewish studies program which was founded years ago and continues to function.


Rabbi Barbara Aiello's father with the Lodge Band of The Italian Sons & Daughters of America in Pittsburg, PA

Italian Jewish Cultural Center of Calabria
Located in southern Italy.

Sinagoga Ner Tamid del Sud
The "Eternal Light of the South

Italian anousim find warmth and acceptance as they learn about their Jewish heritage and experience Jewish ritual and observance at the first active synagogue in Calabria and Sicily in 500 years, since Inquisition times.



Located in southern Italy where a Jewish community existed for many centuries since Roman times until the Jews were expelled from all of southern Italian peninsula in the first half of the 1500s. In the 1490s and first decade of the 1500s, the cities in southern Italy (Kingdom of Naples) received considerable numbers of Sephardi refugees from the expulsions of the 1490s from the Spanish kingdoms of Aragon, Castille and probably Navarre, and to some extent from Portugal (though most of the Jews were not initially permitted to leave Portugal and were instead subjected to a mass forced conversion in Lisbon). From a posting by Leon Taranto LBTEPT@aol.com 


A small town located near the city of Modena in northern Italy. The Jewish community can be traced back to the 14th century; a contract for the first synagogue dates to 1488. The current synagogue was inaugurated in 1861.

Nearby is the former concentration camp at Fossoli. Created by the Mussolini government for use as a prisoner of war camp, it was used to detain political opponents and later, when the Nazis took control, Italy's Jews were brought here before being deported. During the seven months of 1944 that the German SS controlled the camp, eight trains left the station at Carpi, five of which went directly to Auschwitz-Birkenau. About half of the approximately 5,000 deportees at Fossoli were Jews. Further information may be available by Email: to levchadash@libero.it



A number of WWII Jewish soldiers are buried here in the cemetery.  The list of known Jews are:

J. Segal  London Scottish  8th November 1943 age 21; T. Waldman  51st Leeds Rifles  Royal Tank Regt. R. A .C.  23rd May 1944;; L. Savitt  Royal Artillery  13th May 1944 age 29; L. Paul  British Columbia Dragoons  25th May 1944 age 21; M.S. De Vries, DCM  The Irish Regiment of Canada  26th May 1944  age 41; S. Isenstein The Irish Regiment of Canada 3rd June 1944; J. Moskowitz The Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire Regiment 12th May 1944 age 35; M. Flowers, BSC  Royal Artillery  25th May 1944 age 38
From a posting by Karen Zale




There was a Jewish presence at one time

Florence (Firenze)

This city was known as the 'first city of the Renaissance' and is well known for its art collection. One art piece of Jewish themed art dominates this beautiful city ... David, created by the artist Michelangelo. There are about 35,000 Jews in all of Italy today with about 1,000 living in Florence.

Beth Laknesset Firenze was built in 1882
There are two kosher butchers and one kosher restaurant (Il Cuscussu at Via Farini 2/A) The center of the Jewish community is located at Via Luigi Carlo Farni 4. This is where the Florence Synagogue, one of the most beautiful in Europe, is located. There is a Jewish day school and offices of the Jewish community, along with a mikva'ot'oth and the headquarters of B'nai Brith and other Jewish organizations.

The synagogue has successfully withstood wars, barbarism and floods. The Germans tried to blow up the structure during WW II, but the main building withstood their efforts. Bayonet marks are still visible on the doors of the Holy Ark which the Nazis used as a garage to repair their tanks.

On the second floor is the Jewish Museum of Florence which was opened in 1987. It offers a collection of Kiddush cups, prayer shawls, silver ornaments and embroidered vestments along with a pictorial display which is occasionally changed.

Outside of the synagogue, there is a stone monument. with the names of 248 Jewish deportees engraved on the face.

Just across the Ponte Vecchio, in the maze of old lanes that face the Pitti Palace, is the via Ramagliau (once called Via dei Giudei or "Street of the Jews") which remains unchanged from the Renaissance. The streets are about 10 feet wide and are framed in by gray and yellow, three story houses with brown shutters.

The famous Duomo, was started in 1296, and what most people don't see, are the wooden side doors on the south side of the cathedral, where one can see one Tablet of the Law with the first five commandments written in Hebrew. Another set of carved doors were started in 1425 and finished in 1452. They are the 10 carved panels on the doors of the Baptistery, which represent 10 scenes from the Bible as carved by Lorenzo Ghiberti.






Baroque Garland 17th century

Lecce was the capital of what was formerly known as Terra d’Otranto. It had one of the most prominent Jewish settlements in the Neapolitan kingdom before the expulsion of the Jews. Though there is no evidence of a Jewish presence prior to the 15th century, there are traces its existence in Lecce at the time of the Normans (G. T. Tanzi, “Gli Statuti della Città di Lecce,” p. 19, Lecce, 1898). Their occupations were mostly textile dyeing (silk and wool), cattle-raising and money-lending. They were not allowed to own real estate or engage in the higher callings. They were also forced to wear distinguishing badges on their dress. Still, the Jews were protected by the law and seem to have been free from persecutions. When the last Count of Lecce, Giannantonio del Balzo-Orsini, died in 1463 and the city came under the direct rule of Ferdinand the 1st, King of Aragon, there was an outbreak of violence against the Jews. During this time the ghetto was sacked, a number of Jews were killed, and the remainder driven away. 

Le Marche Region

Urbino Synagogue

Le Marche region has a long and interesting Jewish history and many towns still have a lively Jewish community, such as Senigallia and Ancona.  In Pesaro, the Sephardic synagogue can be visited some Thursdays and Fridays in July and August.


A small area near Venice. The Jewish cemetery at the Lido di Venezia


"Ebrei di Livorno tra due Censimenti" (Community of Livorno) - authored by Michele Luzatti and published in 1990. The book is based on the 1841 census taken in Livorno. All (over 4,000 Jewish inhabitants at that time, are listed with their places of origin, addresses, occupations, age, and family members). Genealogies and short family histories for a dozen or so local families are included and there is a wealth of demographic information which adds up to a very complete picture of Jewish life in Livorno between 18411 to 1938". From a posting by Fred Straus



An island town in the greater Venice area , has some Jews buried in the Italy Lutheran Cemetery. There was no Jewish Community registered at the time, so they were buried in this cemetery and were classified as either Lutherans or Greek Orthodox in the registers For further information, refer to the JewishGen Digest of 2/14/00 on Page 11

There is a Jewish community today in the town.


There are about 10,000 Jews in the capital city of Lombardy region.

Italy's first-ever non-orthodox congregation was recently formed in this city. The Jewish community of Italy is composed of both Ashkenazi and Sephardic congregations. Now, there is a new organization known as Italian Association for Progressive Judaism which has created a new congregation. Rabbi David J. Goldberg senior rabbi of The Liberal Jewish Synagogue in London is helping with the formation. For additional information, contact:






A city and commune in the Province of Asti in the Piedmont region about 45 km E of Turin and about 15 km NE of Asti on the national road SS 547 that links Asti to Casale Monferrato and Vercelli. Historically part of the state of Montferrat. Jewish history in "Memories of Jewish life: from Italy to Jerusalem, 1918-1960" by Augusto Segre, Steve Siporin. Jews settled there after their expulsion from France. Moncalvo, like Asti and Fossano retained the old French ritual and still uses the German Makzor with several additions. The history of the community is similar to that of the other communities of Savoy. 1866 Jewish population: 220 persons (many artisans in various trades, but it is now considerably smaller) Source. [October 2011]



Medieval Jewish cemetery in Malcalvo

The most ancient graves date from 1700; the epitaphs send back to the local families: Luzzati, Sacerdoti, Foa and Norzi, today the only Jewish family still living in Moncalvo. The oldest part, constituted by ten graves, is very evocative, encircled by big trees. In the new area, no less touching with its simplicity, forty people are buried






PESARO, city in north-central Italy on the Adriatic Sea. A rabbinical responsum attests to the existence of a Jewish community there in 1214. We can assume that Jews had settled in the city even earlier, attracted by its commercial importance. Pesaro's Jewish residents were engaged in crafts, money lending, and local and regional trade


The old Jewish cemetery of Pesaro was just outside Porta Fano. Its earliest mention dates from 1214 and the oldest surviving fragment of a tomb stone is dated 1415.

A second cemetery was inaugurated after 1550, on the San Bartolo hill, where it still stands. The new cemetery, completely enclosed by walls, can be accessed through a large gate. After the Holy See took control of the Duchy of Urbino, Jews were prohibited to use burial stones and inscriptions. Yet, amidst the thick vegetation covering the hill today, one can stills see headstones and memorial inscriptions in the most varied styles. The higher up the hill, the oldest and most elaborate


The synagogue overlooks a street named for a famous Jewish native, Sara Levi Nathan, who was a friend of Garibaldi's and the mother of Ernesto Nathan, mayor of Rome from 1907 to 1913.  No Jews live today in the town

Sephardi Synagogue in Pesaro


ooops! 'Torre Pendente (The Leaning Tower)

Pisa - famous for it's leaning tower, but Shirley and I discovered a very old Jewish cemetery located right behind the tower. If the gates are locked, you can see a good portion through the convenient holes in the back side brick walls that surround it.




A town that once had a thriving Jewish community and was known as "Little Jerusalem" ("La Piccola Gerusalemme". Jews settled here in the 15th century and once numbered over 300 - now down to three. There is a restored synagogue, butcher, Mikvah and a matzo bakery that can still be seen.



The first  city to reach a population of 1 million people was Rome in 133 B.C.  There is a city called Rome on every continent.

The city holds the largest concentration of Jews in Italy - over 15,000. The Main Synagogue Tempio Israelitico is beautiful and well worth a visit. It was completed in 1904 and also house the Jewish Museum of Rome.

The Jewish Roman community was much bigger in ancient times. It swelled to some 50,000, or 10 percent of the population, after the arrival of Jewish slaves and prisoners brought back after the Romans - led by the Emperor Vespasian and his son Titus - conquered Jerusalem and destroyed the Temple. Those Jewish slaves were used in the building of the Coliseum. The Roman Forum's Arch of Titus, which commemorates the attack on Jerusalem, has become one of the most powerful symbols of the Diaspora. Its carvings depict the emperor's triumphant procession carrying loot from the Temple, including a large, seven-branched menorah. The arch became such a powerful symbol that Roman Jews refused to walk under it until the founding of the State of Israel in 1948.

The menorah on the arch became the model for the one used on the emblem of the State of Israel. Other archeological remains include a synagogue and Jewish catacombs. The synagogue, located at the site of Rome's ancient port, Ostia Antica, was discovered in 1961. It is believed to date from the latter part of the first century C.E., and was remodeled at the end of the third century. The ruined synagogue has a clearly visible ark decorated with carvings of a menorah, lulav and shofar. There also is a room with an oven which may have been used to bake matzos.

Oil lamps decorated with menorahs also were found. One of the most interesting finds was a Greek inscription on a table, in which a local Jew named Mindi Faustos praises himself for having donated the ark.

Chief Rabbi of Rome is Riccardo Di Segni.
Ernesto Nathan, mayor of Rome from 1907 to 1913

Verano cemetery has a Jewish section and has been the scene of desecrations recently.

The Vatican Museum has the largest collection of Hebrew inscriptions and epitaphs from the Jewish catacombs. Nearly 200 are currently on display. It was discovered that the Jewish catacombs predate the Christian sites by at least a century, according to an article by Dutch scientists in the journal Nature. The finding suggests that early Christian burial practices may have modeled after Jewish practice.

Santa Maria al Bagno, (near Nardo)

Museum commemorating tens of thousands of Jewish Holocaust refugees was opened -- the Museum of Memory and Welcome (Museo della Memoria e dell'Accoglienza). Between 1943 and 1947 as many as 150,000 Jews fleeing Europe for Palestine, then still under British control, found shelter in and around Nardo. The museum, designed by the Rome architect Luca Zevi, was opened in Santa Maria al Bagno, which was one of the main refugee centers. Here, Jewish institutions including a synagogue, canteen, orphanage and hospital were set up.


There was once a Jewish presence in this coastal town on the Adriatic Coast. There was an active community of 650 but now there are only four Jewish families. In a closet in the synagogue are nine Torah scrolls of unknown age and origin and three tzedaka boxes embedded in the foyer wall

The old cemetery was located near St. Maria del Portone. A certificate of land purchase in Campo Vecchio del Portone from 1512 is the first reference to the Jewish cemetery of Senigallia. In 1567 the Duke of Urbino accepted a request to extend the area.

In 1869 the Municipality of Senigallia designated the land of the former Convento delle Grazie for the city cemetery, reserving a separate section for a new Jewish cemetery. The first Jewish burial in the new cemetery occurred in 1878, while the old cemetery of Portone continued to be used until 1893. What remains of the old burial field are a few memorial stones, arranged today in the corner of a park dedicated to Anne Frank. The rest of the land was taken over by the expansion of the city. Recent excavations brought to light several 17th and 18th century burial stones and numerous 19th century headstones that have been re-arranged along the pathway that leads to the Jewish cemetery




Located about 150 miles southwest of Trani, there is evidence of another synagogue. The building is now known as Ner Tamid del Sud (Eternal Light of the South) and has a congregation of about 80 people




A city in Apulia, southwest Italy. It was here that Titus brought the captives from Jerusalem, a Mogen David on a 6th century tombstone is the first known use of the Star of David in a specifically Jewish context.


 Scolanova Synagogue Trani
Scola Nova Synagogue

There is a 13th century stone synagogue in this walled seaport on the southern Adriatic coast near Bari and services are held within the synagogue. It was known originally as Santa Maria Scolanova, the Gothic structure was built in 1247 to serve the port's thriving Jewish quarter. after the Jews were expelled, the church was turned over to the church. Now it serves as a synagogue for a combination of northern Italian Jews who have relocated here, recent returnees to Judaism and a few Israeli expatriates.  In the February/March 2013 issue of Hadassah Magazine, Elin Schoen Brockman writes about Francesco Lotor, a pianist and musicologist who has collected and recorded 4,000 compositions written by prisoners in concentration and detention camps from 1933 to 1945






At the cross roads of the past and of today, of Central and Southern Europe, Trieste is a fine city with a long history. It was founded in the ancient times and has been the subject of dispute between all Central European and Balkan powers, seeking a passage to the Mediterranean.

It has been influenced by numerous cultures and has known periods of prominent glory. The monuments of the city are of enormous sightseeing attraction; moreover, the city is a major commercial hub, since it provides direct access to the major central European highways to Milan and Venice.

Trieste is home to Europe's largest synagogue and has a rich Jewish history that can be felt in the most curious of places! Writers Italo Svevo and poet Umberto Saba are celebrated in statue form in the streets of downtown Trieste along with their Irish literary contemporary, James Joyce, who lived in Trieste for ten years. Svevo, one of Joyce's students at the Berlitz school, and later a close friend, became the basis for the character of Leopold Bloom in Joyce's Ulysses. The Jewish community contributed to the financial sector in Trieste by founding the first insurance companies, including Generali Group, which is still in existence today.

The Carlo and Vera Wagner museum is housed in a historically significant building which was originally intended as a Jewish hospital, used as a primary school, and, later, as a shelter for Jewish refugees fleeing the Nazis, as well as a Polish Ashkenazi oratory. It was opened as a museum in 1993 in order to showcase objects belonging to the community, and as an oratory. Headstones from the original

Jewish cemetery can be found in the museum's courtyard. The original cemetery, mentioned in Saba's poetry, became the Park of Remembrance in 1909. The current Jewish cemetery is located at the cemetery of Sant'Anna.
Some of the buildings from the two ghettos in Trieste still survive and have been restored.

Risiera San Saba
, Italy's only extermination camp during WWII, is now a museum just 10 minutes from the center of the city.


Turin was the capital of the duchy of Savoy and later of the Kingdom of Sardinia; it is now the capital of Piedmont province. The presence of Jews in Turin was recorded by Bishop Maximus of Turin in the fourth century, but thereafter there is no evidence of Jews until 1424 when the French Jewish physicians and bankers Elias Alamanni and Amedeo
Foa moved there with their families. They received a ducal privilege and a pontifical patent. The Turin Communal Council gave them the final authorization to settle there. Two documents dated to 1424 confirm it.

The first document is a permission to live in the city and open a bank. The second mentions that the Jews could not be injured or insulted. Also a plot was purchased for a burial ground. Other Jewish bankers followed and a small group was formed. In 1425 the Jews were compelled to live in a restricted area where they could be watched more easily and prevented from lending money at excessive rates of interest. In 1430 Duke Amadeus VIII of Savoy issued statutes regulating Jewish residence, synagogues, civil and criminal jurisdiction, and relations with Christians. In addition, the statutes required Jewish men to wear a *badge in the shape of a disk, four fingers in width and red and white in color. For the following four centuries the interpretation of these regulations by the various rulers of Savoy ranged from literal to lenient. When in 1436 Ludovico of Savoy had the Studium, or university, erected, he decreed that the mansions of the Jews would be used by the students. At the same time the Jewish scholar and banker Bonafé de Chalon was invited to make low-interest loans to the university's students. During the pestilence of 1450–51 the care of the sick was given over to a Jewish doctor, Bono.

Jewish money lending was permitted in Turin for a longer time than anywhere else in Italy. The taxes paid by the Jews were particularly high and the imposition of new taxes threatened the Jews with ruin or expulsion. In 1560 and 1566 Duke Emmanuel Philibert decreed that the Jews be expelled, but the decrees were canceled because of the intervention of influential people and the annual payment by the Jews of 20,000 florins


A beautiful region, but a region where few Jews have lived since the Middle ages




There was once a Jewish presence and there are still a few Jews living here. Maria Luisa Moscati's family has lived here since the 16th century.  It was also the home of Raphael and his La Muta casts her Mon Lisa-like spell over the Galleria Nazionale delle Marche.. Check out this link

Jewish area map



This synagogue was built in 1633 and restored in the 1970s.

Video of Urbino


Venice Ghetto scene

Venice not only has several synagogues, but also a mikva'ot'oth. Both are located in the ghetto district. The ghetto was established in 1516 during a war between most of the powers of Europe against Venice. Jews were among those refugees from Venetian-controlled territory in northern Italy who were able to escape to Venice in front of the armies that came as close to the lagoon that has always protected the city. It did it again this time.

Until that time, Jews were not allowed to live permanently within the city, but because of their loan and banking services, they were especially needed during the time of war, and in the aftermath, as well. This was the reason that the authorities dropped their rules against Jews living in Venice, and allowed those who were already there, to remain, but confined to the one part of the city - an area called the 'ghetto', meaning foundry, because it had been an iron foundry at one time.

The ghetto expanded over time and included two adjoining neighborhoods Jews were allowed to come and go as long as they identified themselves as Jews by wearing a Jewish badge and they had to return to be locked with the ghetto gates each day at sunset.

The baroque synagogues were built as monuments to their distinct ethnic minhagim (liturgies) and identities. There are two functioning Sephardic synagogues (the Scuola Levantine and the Scuola Spagnola)The two Ashkenazic synagogues (Scuola Todesca and Scuola Canton) and the Italian Synagogue (Scuola Italiano) have been restored and serve as museums today.

Jews who died in WW I have been memorialized in the outer stone wall of the Scuola Levantina. You will find names such as Polacco (from Poland), Sarfatti (from France), Calimani (Good Name" in Greek, from the Hebrew "Shemtov") Ottolenghi (from Ettlingen, in Germany), Navarro ( a Spanish name ), Todesco (literally "German") and more.

A good resource on the Jews and Marranos in Venice are the books of P.C. Ioly Zorattini Between others, he published fifteen (!) volumes of
"Processi del Sant' Uffizio di Venezia ontro Ebrei e Giudaizzanti"
(Criminal Trials of the Holy (?) Office of Venice against Jews and Judizants). These volumes, not easy to find, were published from 1984 to 1999 and cover trials against Jews from 1570 to 1734. Ioly Zorattini is an expert of history of Marranos in North-East Italy (Venezia, Padova, Verona, Udine, etc.).

From a posting by Nardo Bonomi Firenze - Italy Author of:

Virtual Tour of Jewish Venice


The Jewish Museum London has on display, an imposing 17th century Italian Ark, believe to be from a Venice synagogue.  It was discovered in 1932 in a Northumbria castle, in use as a steward's wardrobe.


General Italian



Archivio segreto vaticano - in Rome

Central Archives for the History of the Jewish People (CAHJP)  http://www.orthohelp.com/geneal/sefardim.htm

State Archives - in Rome

Centro Bibliografico

Italian Jewry
Lungotevere Sanzio 5
00153, Rome


Centro di Documentation Ebraica

Italian Jewry
Via Eupil 8, 20145
Milan, Italy.


ETSI - Sephardi Genealogical and Historical Society

The purpose of "ETSI" is to help people interested in Jewish Genealogical and Historical Research in the Sephardi World. "ETSI's" field of study covers the Ottoman Empire (Turkey, Greece, Palestine, Syria, Libya, Egypt); North Africa (Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia) Spain, Portugal, Italy and Gibraltar. The study of every Sephardi community or family who lived in other regions is equally within the society's aim.


Family Names Jewish Italian - (Site is in English)



Heraldry - Jewish



There are records available in Italy and John P. Colleta, author of 'Finding Italian Roots', mentioned this site

Italian Jews

Marc Margarit has developed a web site that offers 7,800 bibliographic notes representing 20 years of personal effort. From what I can determine, the links include an Archive Guide; Family Names, Emigration, Family History, Local Authority Archives, Franco-Italian Connections, Public Notaries, Local History, Jews, Private Archives, Archives of Public Notaries concerning naturalizations, State Archives, Biographies, Places, Bibliography and information on Corsica, Tessin, San Marino and Malta. The site, however is in French

Italian Jewish Community
Union of Italian Jewish Communities
Rome 00153, Italy

Italian Jewish Culture - (both sites in Italian)


Italian Jewish Genealogy


Italian Library of "Nos Ancestres Italiens"

in both English and French

Italian Oral History Institute

PO Box 241553, Los Angeles
CA 90024-1553 has an interesting and informative web site dealing with Italian Jewry


J-ITALY brings together resources previously not available in one location, providing a journey of constant discovery for those who navigate it.  Great site and in the February/March 2013 issue of Hadassah Magazine, Elin Schoen Brockman wrote a great article


Jerusalem Italian Jewish Association


The Jews of Italy

There are Regional Special Interest Groups that have Italian information and links. The site includes links to Bohemia-Moravia SIG, Denmark SIG, German-Jewish SIG, Hungary SIG and Stammbaum - German SIG at

Lev Chadash - (A New Heart )

Italy's first and, to date, only non-Orthodox synagogue. Associazione italiana per l'ebraismo progressivo - Jonathan Specktor, formerly of Minneapolis, now lives in Milan and he, or the organization Lev Chadash, may be a helpful source

List of Jewish Museums in Italy




Contact Rivka Nessim. There are Regional Special Interest Groups that have Italian information and links. The site includes links to Bohemia-Moravia SIG, Denmark SIG, German-Jewish SIG, Hungary SIG and Stammbaum - German SIG at



Map of Italy

Open Street Maps
The crowd-sourced mapping project OpenStreetMap 
has amassed a million contributors since its inception in 2005 and, according to navigation app maker Skobbler, boasts greater accuracy in England, Russia and Germany than rivals such as Google Maps.  I tried the site and found an accurate drawing of my father's ancestral town Tal'ne, Ukraine.  Almost every country is available as is most towns

Sephardic Sites




There are about 70 synagogue buildings, including the ruins of two from ancient Roman times. In addition, there are Jewish museums throughout the country. The Piedmont area probably has the most well-preserved synagogues. Rome boasts the largest and most ornate structure with a distinctive square dome that towers above the Tiber River at the edge of the old Jewish ghetto. The three best known are the Moorish-style synagogue in Florence built in 1870-1882, several restored synagogues in the old ghetto in Venice and the Grand Rome synagogue.



Transit Camps

There were several transit camps in Apulia


Translation Service  Languages

A commercial site offering many language translating programs


See also my "Traveling Roots" page

In Your Pocket Guide - a wonderful, detailed commercial travel site that offers much information about the history and current traveling conditions in the country, along with city map information

Most books, CDs, etc. can be ordered through my link to Amazon.com by
clicking here >

U Nahon Museum of Italian-Jewish Art


Volterra Bankers Family of Tuscany

There is a reference to a book about this family. The article can be found in the Winter issue of ETSI (Sephardi Genealogical and Historical Review of 1999

White Pages (Italian Telephone Book) in Italian.

You can research for a family name in towns (Comune) or in a province (Provincia). The option "Provincia" includes also the towns that are in the province selected





A Ghetto House on Corfu
February/March 2012 issue of Hadassah Magazine

This Ionian isle offer extant multistory gabled houses packed tightly together.  Jews have lived here since 1160 coming first from the Balkan peninsula, and from Romaniote (Greek speaking) communities. There is an article authored by Esther Hecht in the February/March 2012 issue of Hadassah Magazine from which I have gleaned a lot of the following information.


After the expulsion of Jews from Spain and Portugal, some settled in Corfu.  They and Jews expelled from Naples joined the small Italian community, which was mainly from Sicily and Apulia. Until WW II, there was constant friction between the Romaniote and Italian Jews in Corfu; they even maintained separate cemeteries.

Until the 15th century, Jews lived within the Old Fortress, as did other residents, but later were forbidden to worship there.  Newcomers lived outside the fortress in an area called Jews' Mountain.

Napoleon conquered Corfu in 1797, he gave the Jews equal rights.  More Jews came from Italy and the Ottoman Empire, and by 1802, the community had grown to 1,229 (of 45,000 inhabitants).

Corfu became a British protectorate in 1815 and the Jews lost their civil and political rights. In 1864, the Jews supported Greece's unification and were given equal rights.  Three Jews joined the city council, one became a deputy mayor and one became mayor.

In 1891, a second blood libel was spread against the Jews with a month-long pogrom and about one quarter of Corfu's Jews immigrated to other parts of Greece and to Turkey, Italy, Egypt and England

Early on the morning of June 9, 1944, the Germans woke up the some 1800 Jews and forcibly marched them to the Old Fortress where they were pushed into confiscated small boats to be deported to Auschwitz-Birkenau. Most never returned.

There is a Jewish presence today of some 85 Jews.  Only a few Jews live in the ghetto still called Evraiki (Jewish). Before Jews lived in the ghetto, they lived in a part of the Campielo quarter that was known as Evreo Vuni (Jews Mountain).


A Holocaust Memorial was recently dedicated to their memory. These are the family names listed on the Memorial:

Akkos; Alchavas; Amar; Aron; Asias; Asser; Bakolas; Balestra; Baruch; Ben Giat; Besso; Cavaliero; Chaim; Dalmediaos; Dentes; Elias; Eliezer; Eskapas; Etan; Ferro; Fortes; Ganis; Gerson; Gikas; Israel; Johanna; Koen; Kolonimos; Konstantinis; Koulias; Lemous; Leoncini; Levi; Matathias; Matsas; Mnervo; Mizan Mordos; Moustaki; Nacho; Nechamas; Negrin; Osmos; Ovadiah; Perez; Pitson; Politis; Raphael; Sardas; Sasen; Serneine; Sinigalli; Soussis; Tsesana; Varon; Vellelis; Vivante; Vital and Vitali

Isaac Dostis is working on a documentary "Farewell My Island" which is about the deportation from Corfu and is to be finished soon. Contact Isaac at 1 212 431 1619


Open Street Maps
The crowd-sourced mapping project OpenStreetMap has amassed a million contributors since its inception in 2005 and, according to navigation app maker Skobbler, boasts greater accuracy in England, Russia and Germany than rivals such as Google Maps.  I tried the site and found an accurate drawing of my father's ancestral town Tal'ne, Ukraine.  Almost every country is available as is most towns

Synagogues on Corfu
Of the four synagogues that existed in the ghetto before WW II, only the Greek one - La Scuola Greca remains.  Next door lie the ruins of the Talmud Torah





Etz Hayyim Synagogue Door

is the largest of the Greek islands and also home to one of the oldest Jewish Communities in Europe. There is an excellent article about this island's Jewish community - past and present - in the February 2004 issue of Hadassah Magazine.

Crete is known as the home of the Philistines and was once the home of Jewish scholars and merchants. It was also the home to one of Europe's oldest Jewish communities and a stop-over for travelers en route to the Holy Land. Jews are mentioned as early as 142 B.C.E. in a letter in support of them sent to the capital city of Gortys, 29 miles south of Heraklion, at the request of Simon, the Hasmonean ruler of Judea, according to the article in Hadassah Magazine authored by Esther Hecht.



Around 1204 the island was sold to the Venetians and became an important commercial center. From 1416 they were forbidden to own land. In 1858 there were 907 Jews on the island but only 647 in 1881


Open Street Maps
The crowd-sourced mapping project OpenStreetMap 
has amassed a million contributors since its inception in 2005 and, according to navigation app maker Skobbler, boasts greater accuracy in England, Russia and Germany than rivals such as Google Maps.  I tried the site and found an accurate drawing of my father's ancestral town Tal'ne, Ukraine.  Almost every country is available as is most towns

Central Board of Jewish Communities
36 Voulis Street
Athens, Greece
Phone: 011 30 210 324 4315
Email: :

Etz Hayyim Synagogue was originally a fifteenth century church and is located in the old Jewish quarter (Ovraiki) in the city of Hania
Parodos Kondylaki Str
731 10 Hania
Crete, Hellas (GR)
Telephone/Fax: 30 282 108 6286; 30 694 243 9741;
Email: :


Became known as Candia and today it is called Heraklion.


In 1941, there were 314 Jews. During WW II, the Jews of Hania were rounded up, taken to Heraklion and put on a ship bound for Piraeus; a death camp was their ultimate destination, however a British sub sank the ship and no Jews survived.


In 1481, there were 600 Romaniote Jewish families in Heraklion with four synagogues and the right of self-government. There were 26 Jewish men in 1941.


Gateway to Crete including an aerial tour

The Kehila Kedosha Janina Synagogue and Museum

Offers an exhibit entitled 'The Romaniotes of Crete' which tells the story of the Jews of Crete and the resurrection of the Romaniote synagogue there. More information can be found at the museum's web site


A harbor town where Jews once lived



Cyprus Jews released from Detention Camp



A synagogue and Jewish community center was inaugurated in 2005. Rabbi Arie Ze'ev Raskin is the rabbi of the Cyprus Jewish community. There are between 150 and 300 Jewish families living in Cyprus, half of them Israelis.


Cyprus Map


Open Street Maps
The crowd-sourced mapping project OpenStreetMap has amassed a million contributors since its inception in 2005 and, according to navigation app maker Skobbler, boasts greater accuracy in England, Russia and Germany than rivals such as Google Maps.  I tried the site and found an accurate drawing of my father's ancestral town Tal'ne, Ukraine.  Almost every country is available as is most towns


"The Forgotten Jews of Cyprus"

There is a story by Yadin Roman and photos by Doron Horowitz available at



An Ionian Island.  Author Avraham Cohen, who was born on Corfu, wrote a masterpiece, "Belle du Seigneur".  It appeared in English as "Her Lover" (Penguin Books)




About 28 km by 12 km and is part of an archipelago made up of another three islands, which are Gozo, Comino, Cominotto and Filfla, each having their unique features. The mother language is Maltese, which is semantically based together with some romantic vocabulary. Most residents speak fluent English as well. As a country, it dates from thousands of years before Christ and has been conquered and
colonized by many civilizations and countries, namely Phoenicians, Romans, Arabs, Normans, French, British and the Knights of St. John. The oldest known landmark is the Neolithic temples dating from the same era as the pyramids. Religiously, most of the population is Catholic since the island was colonized by Britain for over 200 years. Currency is euros. The history of the Jews in Malta can be traced back to approximately 62 CE. Most contemporary Maltese Jews are
Sefardic, however an Ashkenazic prayer book is use

Jews of Carlisle



The Malta Archdiocese
of the Catholic Church
has a digital archive. “Numerous diocesan" and parish manuscripts dating back to the 15th century are now freely available online …The publications that have been made available include marriage, baptism and funeral records, pastoral visits, church inventories, property registers and various other publications and records collected by the Catholic Church in Malta over centuries.”


"The Jews of Malta In The Late Middle Ages"
The book has no ISBN number and written by Godfrey Wettinger of Midsea Books Ltd. in Malta in 1985. It contains among other things, an Index of Persons and Index of Places and an Index of Subjects and contains a wealth of information. Various subject covered include the economic activity of the Jewish community, Militia lists containing Jewish names, Civil Proceedings concerning the Jews of Malta and other sundry items - all from the fifteenth century (1400-1500). Basil Samuels offers to do looks ups for anyone interested in a posting on 12/10/1997

Jews of Malta

    Interior view of the New Synagogue in Valetta, Malta. Beit Hatefutsoth - Visual Documentation Center.
    Courtesy of Stanley L. Davis - Jewish Community of Malta.

Photos and a description of the Jewish Centre of Malta, as well as the history of the Maltese Jews is at







Map of Malta

Open Street Maps
The crowd-sourced mapping project OpenStreetMap has amassed a million contributors since its inception in 2005 and, according to navigation app maker Skobbler, boasts greater accuracy in England, Russia and Germany than rivals such as Google Maps.  I tried the site and found an accurate drawing of my father's ancestral town Tal'ne, Ukraine.  Almost every country is available as is most towns


A Democratic government is in place and Valetta is the capital of the country


New Synagogue in Valetta, Malta. Beth Hatefutsoth - Visual Documentation Center Courtesy of Stanley L. Davis - Jewish Community of Malta






Jewish Quarter

There is an excellent article, authored by Esther Hecht, detailing the Jewish presence in Rhodes. It is available in the August/September 2002 issue of Hadassah Magazine. I am quoting some of the highlights from that article.

The Jews of Rhodes call themselves 'Rhodeslis'. The lives of Rhodeslis are bound up with the sea. Their homes and synagogues were near the harbor; as silk merchants they sent and received exotic cargoes. And it was by sea that they left the Island of roses to seek their fortunes in distant lands: the Belgian Congo (today Zaire), Rhodesia (which is now Zimbabwe and Zambia) and the United States."

Jews may have been living on the island since the second century B.C.E. They are mention in 653 C.E. when the Arab conquerors ordered the destruction of the remains of the Colossus, a gigantic bronze statue of Helios, toppled by an earthquake eight centuries before. In the 12th century there were 400 Jews according to a writing by Benjamin of Tudela, when he visited the Island.

Jews were expelled in early 1500 but were brought back as slaves by the knights in 1522 and freed by the Turks. These were the Jews who had fled the Spanish and Portuguese Inquisitions, and their customs and language (Judeo-Spanish) quickly supplanted those of the earlier Romaniote (Greek-speaking) community.

Rhodes came under Italian rule in 1912, after the Balkan wars. Jews then started to seek their fortunes in Africa, especially in the Belgian Congo. So many men left that the women would become engaged by mail, then leave to join their husbands. At its peak in the 1920s, the Jewish population was about 4,000, one third of the total.

While under German occupation in WW II, over 1,604 Jews were taken to Auschwitz and murdered on July 23, 1944. Only 151 of them survived the Holocaust. At present there are fewer than 40 Jews on the island which came under Greek dominion in 1947. Bella Restis-Angel is their first President of the Jewish Community which is administered by the Central board of Jewish Communities in Athens.

In the early 20th century, the rabbi of the largest synagogue was Yaacov Capuia, the Kahal Gadol

Most of the founding members of Or Ve Shalom Congregation in Atlanta, Georgia originated from Rhodes. The women of the congregation have created a Sephardic cookbook. See my Cooking page for recipes.




"Histoire des Juifs de Rhodes", Chio, Cos, etc."
Authored by Abraham Galante and published in Istanbul, in French, by the Societe Anonyme de Papeterie et d'Imprimerie, 1935.

According to Daniel Kazez, "it is an excellent book, of value to all Sephardic Jews". It is the history of the Jews of Greece, Rhodes, Aegean Island, and Turkey The author is working on an English index that will have about 600 entries indexed. These libraries have the French version: Hebrew Union College - Ohio; The Ohio State University; The Library of Congress in Washington; the University of Iowa Library; The Brandeis University Library in Massachusetts; The Harvard University Library in Massachusetts; The University of Pennsylvania, Center for Judaic Studies.

The book deals with Rhodes and smaller communities of Chio, Cos, Lemnos, Metelin, Cassos, Castellorizo, Halki, Patmos, Calymnos, Symi, Carpathos, Leors, and Nyssiros The index has 648 entries and requires Adobe PDF program

"The Jewish Martyrs of Rhodes and Cos"
Authored by Hizkia M. Franco who was the former President of the Jewish Community of Rhodes, and published in 1984 by Harper Collins Publishers, 3rd floor, Regal Star House, 26 George Silundika Ave. Harare, Zimbabwe.  This book provides a history of the Jews of Rhodes from the 1930s through the end of WW II and includes a list of the 1,674 Jews of Rhodes and Cos who were deported in 1944 by the Nazis, and the 54 Jews who escaped deportation.  Also identified are those who died in the bombing of Rhodes.
ISBN 1 77904 004 0

"The Jewish Quarter of Rhodes"
A self-published guide book by Aron Hasson

"Jewish Rhodes: A Lost Culture"
Authored by Isaac Jack Levy and published in 1989 by Judah L. Magnes Museum, 2911 Russell Street, Berkeley, CA 94705

"The Jews of Rhodes"
Authored by Marc Angel and published by Sepher Hermon Press provides a history of the community and its customs.  It is out of print.

"The Juderia"
Authored by Laura Varon - is an account of life before the German occupation and her struggle to survive in a concentration camp.


General Rhodes

Rhodes Jewish cemetery

Jewish Cemetery
Located between the Christian and Muslim burial grounds on the road to Faliraki, on the southeastern edge of the city. A massive pointed arch marks the entrance.


Jewish Community

View of the Necori quarter in Rhodes.

The home of the Paccifici family is pictured in the back of the photograph.

View of the Necori quarter in Rhodes

The home of the Paccifici family is pictured in the back of the photograph.

Emanuele Pacifici is the son of Rabbi Riccardo Pacifici and Vanda Abenaim Pacifici. His father was born February 18, 1902 in Florence, and his mother was born on May 6, 1907 in Pisa. Emanuele was born on June 15, 1931. After receiving his rabbinical ordination in Florence, Rabbi Pacifici served as the assistant rabbi of Venice from 1929 to 1930. 


Near the Archaeological Museum
5 Polydorou
Telephone: 30 241 22364

The office has a list of graves in the cemetery and an archive for genealogical study that is open Monday through Friday from 9 to 2.

Jewish Museum of Rhodes

    This is the actual stamp used by the Italians to recognize, and to discriminate against, a person’s
    Jewish heritage. It was used on
legal documents as well as Identification Cards, like this one
    belonging to Lucia Turiel Capelluto.

Their web site includes Family Photos and a link to their archives

Kahal Shalom Synagogue


A sixteenth-century synagogue built in 1577. Samuel Modiano, one of the few Rhodeslis to have survived the Holocaust, was to have had his bar mitzvah in the synagogue in 1944, but instead 'celebrated' it in Auschwitz. Today, he leads tours of the synagogue and La Juderia, the neighborhood that housed thousands of Jews before WW II.

Kol Hakehila

A quarterly publication about the Jewish communities in Greece as well as Jewish heritage tours

La Juderia and Square of the Jewish Martyrs La Juderia

Located in the eastern corner of the town and was home for Jews for centuries. The square is now called Plateia Martyron Evreion: the Square of the Jewish Martyrs of the Holocaust.



Open Street Maps
The crowd-sourced mapping project OpenStreetMap has amassed a million contributors since its inception in 2005 and, according to navigation app maker Skobbler, boasts greater accuracy in England, Russia and Germany than rivals such as Google Maps.  I tried the site and found an accurate drawing of my father's ancestral town Tal'ne, Ukraine.  Almost every country is available as is most towns

The Rhodes Jewish Historical Foundation

10850 Wilshire Blvd.
# 750
Los Angeles, CA 90024
Phone: 310-475-4779 Fax: 310-475-8144

The Rhodes Jewish Museum

museum image

Founded by Aron Hasson and opened in 1997



'Names List'




The Jews of Alghero (Sardinia) were mostly engaged in trade, but there were also many scholars and physicians among them, the best known being: Isaac Eymies, who was pensioned by the governor of Lugodoro and by the city of Alghero, and who was called in 1406 to the post of city physician of Cagliari; Ḥayyim of Hipre, author of a work on the medicinal plants of Sardinia; and Solomon Averonques, renowned for his surgical operations. The Jews of Alghero were not excluded from official positions. Mention is made of a Jew named Moses Sofer who occupied in 1467 the position of tax-collector. Another, named Moses di Carcassona, was appointed by the vice-king Carroz in 1467 as the general sheriff’s officer of the court of Alghero.





The southernmost of the Ionian islands.  In gratitude for the islanders' help during WW II, the local Jewish community donated the stained-glass windows of the church.  Jews lived here, on the island, from at least the start of the 15th century and had strong commercial and family ties with the Jewish community in Corfu.

The Germans occupied the island in 1943, appointed Lucas Karrer mayor and demanded a list of the Jews.  Instead, Metropolitan Chrysostemos Demetrious bribed the German commander, and the partisans threatened to attack.  Bishop Vasily Stravolmos wired Hitler, asking him not to deport the Jews.

The Germans again demanded a list.  This time they received one, but it bore only two names: Karrer's and the metropolitan's.  When the Germans nevertheless brought boats to deport the Jews, Karrer told them to flee, and nearly the entire community was saved.

After the war, most left for Palestine, some illegally in 1946 on a ship named the Henrietta Szold

The Jewish cemetery is off of Filikon, next to Agiou Georgiou Filikon Church




Open Street Maps
The crowd-sourced mapping project OpenStreetMap has amassed a million contributors since its inception in  2005 and, according to navigation app maker Skobbler, boasts greater accuracy in England, Russia and Germany than rivals such as Google Maps.  I tried the site and found an accurate drawing of my father's ancestral town Tal'ne, Ukraine.  Almost every country is available as is most towns

The Shalom Synagogue
44 Tertseti Street
Destroyed by the 1953 earthquake that effectively put an end to the Jewish community





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The history of the Jews in Sicily begins with the legend of Jewish captive slaves arriving in Sicily in the first century after the fall of Jerusalem in 70 CE. However, it is generally presumed the Jewish population of Sicily was seeded prior to the destruction of the Temple of Jerusalem. Rabbi Akiva visited the city of Syracuse during one of his trips abroad





Jewish Genealogy in Sicily



Open Street Maps
The crowd-sourced mapping project OpenStreetMap has amassed a million contributors since its inception in 2005 and, according to navigation app maker Skobbler, boasts greater accuracy in England, Russia and Germany than rivals such as Google Maps.  I tried the site and found an accurate drawing of my father's ancestral town Tal'ne, Ukraine.  Almost every country is available as is most towns

Surnames of former Jews of Sicily

more to come ...

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