Crete archives are catalogued

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Crete archives are catalogued

The Greek Island's last remaining shul will make public archives of Nikos Stavroulakis, who revitalised Jewish life there

Etz Hayyim Synagogue
Etz Hayyim Synagogue

Staff at the last remaining synagogue on Crete say they will make public some of the archives of Nikos Stavroulakis, who single-handedly revitalised Jewish life on the island.

Beginning in the 1990s, Stavroulakis – who died in 2017 – refurbished the Etz Hayyim Synagogue in the city of Hania, which now draws tourists and schoolchildren as one of the last testaments to 2,300 years of heritage.

Jews first arrived on Crete from Egypt, while others arrived from the Land of Israel during the Maccabean Revolt a century later. Together, they established one of the world’s oldest diaspora communities. Cretan Jewry prospered under the Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, Andalusian Arabs, Venetians and Ottomans, but was destroyed by the Nazis, who deported Hania’s 350-strong Jewish community to Auschwitz.

The full history is now being told thanks to Stavroulakis, an artist and historian who founded the Jewish Museum of Greece.

Today, two decades after its rededication, Etz Hayyim is once again an active place of worship, with a vibrant community and a cultural centre. Staff there are now cataloguing Nikos’s private collection of artefacts, books, and documents.


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