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  Arta

The Jewish Community of Arta was one of the oldest in Greece. By 1173 it had about 100 families. After the collapse of the Byzantine Empire it was granted some liberties by the local Greek ruler, which allowed it to flourish. The Jewish cemetery and the old synagogue of the town date from that time. The Ottomans took control of the town in 1449 and a few decades later the community saw an influx of Jewish refugees from the south of Italy. These formed their own, separate community, and erected a new synagogue the “Pulieza”, i.e. the Apulian, to distinguish it from the older one, the “Greca”, of the Greek-speaking community.

Just before WW II, Arta had about 500 Jews, of whom only 352 lived in the town when the Germans rounded up the members of the community and deported them to the extermination camps. Only 30 survived to return to the town, together with 28 more, who had fled and hid in the surrounding villages. One of those hidden families did not escape death, as the entire population of the village Kommeno, where they were hiding in, was massacred in a German raid.

After the war, the members of the community emigrated to the big cities or abroad. The community was officially dissolved in 1959, its cemetery and synagogue given to other uses.

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