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40 years of active presence

Saturday, December 9, 2023


    The Jewish presence in Chalkis can be tracked down in Hellenistic times. The community weathered periods of great turmoil, as well as long periods of stability, and its presence is constant during the Byzantine Empire, the period of Venetian occupation (when its members were restricted in a ghetto) and the Ottoman empire.

    In 1840, Chalkis is already part of the newly formed Greek state; a census records 400 Jews in the city. Several moved to other cities in pursuit of business, with the result that the community numbered 325 members before the outbreak of World War II. Its best known son, Colonel Mordechai Frizis, was one of the first Greek senior officers to fall on the Albanian front.

    Most of the city’s Jews lived in the neighbourhood around the Synagogue, whose main axis was Kotsou Street. During the occupation, thanks to the protection of their Christian fellow citizens and the Resistance, nearly every one of the Jews of Chalkis survived. Today only a small number of Jews live in the city, whose Synagogue and cemetery echo the rich past of this Romaniote community.

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