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40 years of active presence

Thursday, December 7, 2023

    EVERYDAY LIFE – Community organisation and institutions

    Admittedly, relations between the two Jewish communities of Corfu, the Greci and the Pugliesi, were never harmonious. When, at the time of the settlement of the Apulians and later the Spaniards and the Marranos in Corfu, they asked to join the preexisting Romaniote community, the Romaniotes refused, fearing that they might lose the privileges they already enjoyed, especially political equality. Thus in 1551 a separate community and a new synagogue were founded, called the Kahal Kadosh or Italiano-Corfioto or Pugliesa. The opposition between the two Jewish communities was such that even marriages between Greeks and Apulians were avoided.

    Each community had its own separate cemetery and a Hevra Ghemilut, a voluntary communal association that took care of burials. As far as their financial situation allowed, their activity extended to other areas as well, such as providing dowries to needy girls, care for the poor and financial support for the community.

    When, after the antisemitic events of 1891, the two communities were united at the instigation of the Alliance Israélite Universelle, the two hevrot, still at odds with each other, remained separate. In fact, in order to avoid the control of the now united community, in 1932 their administrations resorted to registering as independent bodies under Greek law. This move had a detrimental effect on the unity of the island’s Jews, despite the reconciliation efforts of rabbis Abraham Schreiber, who was forced to leave his post after only two years, and his successor, Yaacov Nechama. Free of all control, both bodies financially sabotaged the community, making it ungovernable.

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