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Restored Synagogue Opens in Trikala, Greece

Synagogue Trikala Greece
The grand opening of the renovated synagogue at Trikala, central Greece. Credit: AMNA

Members of Jewish communities from all over the world attended the grand opening of the renovated synagogue in Trikala, Greece this week.

The celebration at the Kahal Kadosh Yavanim synagogue, which was destroyed in 1930, began last Friday when the doors were opened to the public for the first time since its destruction.

An event with a presentation and a photo exhibition about the restoration took place at the local museum.

The president of the Jewish Community of Trikala, Yaakov Venouziou, described how the renovation of the Kal Kantos Yavanim Synagogue came about.

He said that in 2017, after a proposal by the Jewish community of Trikala, the Central Jewish Council under the chairmanship of David Saltiel decided to move forward with the renovation of the synagogue.

In 2018, David Saltiel himself, when he was president of the Jewish Community of Thessaloniki, visited the city of Trikala, in order to oversee the renovation. The project was successfully completed at the end of 2019 thanks to generous funding from the Federal Republic of Germany and the support of donors from Greece and abroad.

It was noted that the restored building is not merely a place of prayer and gathering but is also a symbol of the harmonious and peaceful coexistence of Christians and Jews.

Restored synagogue symbolizes long Jewish presence in Trikala, Greece

The Jewish presence in the city of Trikala dates back to the Byzantine period.

In 1749, a fire ravaged the city, and the Jewish quarter as well as the synagogues were seriously damaged.

Synagogue Trikala Greece
The synagogue is a symbol of the harmonious and peaceful coexistence of Christians and Jews. Credit: AMNA

The community grew again with the liberation of the city from Turkish forces and its integration into the Greek kingdom.

According to the 1907 census, there were 110 Jewish families in the city of Trikala, a figure which increased twenty years later to 120 families.

At the outbreak of World War II, the Greek army contained many committed Jews, including a significant part from Trikala. During the Holocaust, many of the five hundred Jews were able to escape.

On the night of March 23, 1944, 112 Jews were arrested and deported. Only about ten survivors returned to Trikala at the end of the war.

In the aftermath of the war, the community consisted of seventy-three families. Renovation was undertaken, particularly at the city’s Jewish cemetery. Only 101 Jews lived in Trikala in 1967. At the end of the 20th century, the Jewish population numbered around forty.

Synagogue Trikala Greece
The plaque outside the restored Kahal Kadosh Yavanim Synagogue. Credit: AMNA

The Jewish Quarter had three synagogues, namely the Kahal Kadosh Yavanim, the Kahal Kadosh Sephardim, and the Kahal Kadosh Sicilianim. The large and old Kahal Kadosh Yevanim Synagogue was destroyed in 1930 due to its condition.

The Jewish cemetery is located in the northern part of the city close to the motorway connecting Trikala to Kalambaka. Some tombs are over four centuries old. Renovation work has been undertaken on several occasions following natural or intentional deterioration.

Related: The Fascinating History of Romaniote Jews in Greece’s Ioannina

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