Jewish Heritage Tours | Thessaly-Macedonia-Epirus

Itinerary example (9 days / 8 nights)

A Jewish traveller can discover a lot of fascinating things when touring around Greek Jewish communities. Of course, given the distances between the cities of Jewish interest, it is very difficult to combine everything in one trip. Please find below an example of a 9-days itinerary for a group of observant Jews who visited Greece in summer 2014. It covers all the Jewish communities of Greece’s mainland to a great extent, leaving out only the ones on the islands of Corfu, Rhodes and Crete (Chania). Whether you are interested in a group tour or in a private tour, don’t hesitate to contact us if you plan to visit our beautiful country. We can arrange a tour based on your personal needs and requirements.

The Jewish presence in Greece dates back to the 6th century BCE, when the first Jews came to settle in the Greek territory after the destruction of Solomon’s Temple. These Jews established strong communities, long before the Roman invasion. When the Romans conquered Greece in 146 BCE., the Greeks called themselves «Rhomaioi» (citizens of Rome), while the Jews, in order to differentiate themselves from their fellow Greek citizens who were pagans at that time, called themselves «Romaniotes», which means «citizens of «Romania» (the word «Romania», in this context, indicates the eastern part of the Roman Empire, and bears no connection with the state of Romania). After the expulsion of Jews from Spain and Portugal, a lot of Sephardic Jews settled in the Balkan region, mostly in the Northern part of Greece. In addition, some Ashkenazi Jews arrived in Greece following the newly appointed King Otto of Bavaria in the 19th century. This mixture of the “indigenous” Romaniotes and the newcomers, formed a population of approximately 80.000 people on the eve of WWII. Unfortunately, of these 80.000 Jews, only one-eighth, that is, 10.000 souls, survived the war. Today, less than 4.500 Jews live in Greece. Jewish Tour Throughout Greece

During WWII, Greece suffered one of the highest percentage of losses in Jewish population (87%). Before the war, there were Synagogues in over 32 cities. Only in Thessaloniki (also known as Salonica) there were more than 60 functioning Synagogues! Unfortunately, the vast majority of them was, either burned down by the Nazis, or never reclaimed, as, in most towns, no Jews came back… Nowadays, there are 8 active communities, however, most of them are facing a population decline… We are very lucky and proud that some of our holy sites like Synagogues, cemeteries and monuments, are still standing and being preserved, thus helping us and the new generations maintain Greek Jewry’s traditions alive.

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Jewish Heritage Tour Throughout Greece (8 Overnights)