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The Central Board of Jewish Communities in Greece

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.

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.