This level marks the beginning of the part of the Museum that is devoted to history, covering the long period from the 3rd century B.C.E. until the end of World War II.
Here, the display case presents the material evidence of the century’s long history of Greek Jews, through inscriptions, rare books, manuscripts as well as documents of the Ottoman period, which describe the life of the Jewish communities in Greece.
The Jewish communities of the Hellenistic and early Roman period formed the foundation of the communities that flourished during the Byzantine era. The Jews of Byzantium also known as Romaniotes, spoke Greek, while cultivating their unique dialect, Judaeo-Greek. They comprised the majority of the Jewish population in Greek Lands until the 15th century. Towards the end of the 15th century, thousands of Sephardic Jews were forced to leave the Iberian Peninsula as they were persecuted for religious reasons by the Catholic King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella. The 1844 Constitution of the newly established Kingdom of Greece emancipated the Jews, recognizing them as equal citizens with equal rights and obligations. This legislation was valid until the end of the 19th century. In 1899, the Greek Government officially recognized the Jewish Communities.
On the same level, there are artefacts proving the participation of the Greek Jews in the Balkan Wars, the First World War and took part in the Asia Minor campaign as well as in the Greek-Italian war. They distinguished themselves in battle and were decorated for their courage.
Additionally, on this level the visitor will see artefacts relevant to Zionism, an ideological and political movement that arose in the 19th century, and whose goal was the establishment of a Jewish State in Palestine. The ultimate result of the Zionist movement was the founding of the State of Israel, in May 1948, as well as the literary and practical revival of the Hebrew language. Jewish immigration to Palestine, then under Ottoman rule, already started in the 1880’s, mainly from Russia.
Click here to see selected artefacts
Copy of a capital fragment showing three menorot, lulav and ethrog from the Synagogue of Corinth, 4-6th c. C.E. The copy was made with the help and the assistance of Prof. Charles Williams of the American School of Classical Studies at Athens. The original can be found at the Archaeological Museum of Corinth.
Copy of a marble plaque bearing the inscription “(ΣΥΝ)ΑΓΩΓΗ ΕΒΡ(ΑΙΩΝ)” (Synagogue of the Hebrews), from Corinth, 4-6th c. C.E. The copy was made with the help and the assistance of Prof. Charles Williams of the American School of Classical Studies at Athens. The original can be found at the Archaeological Museum of Corinth.
Μanuscript, of rare artistic and historical value from Venice. It is a proclamation by the Doge Francesco Erizzo (1631-1646), in reply to a petition from the syndics of the Jewish Community of Corfu, for protection against vandalism and other local anti-Semitic acts. It has 44 pages with texts dating from 1642 until 1724, three of which are illustrated with full-page miniatures; the open page shows Moses holding the Tablets of the Covenant.
Copy of the “Regimento da Santo Officio da Inquisicao dos Regnos de Portugal”, the Regulation of the Holy Office for the Holy Inquisition in the Kingdom of Portugal, which was published in Lisbon in 1640, is currently on display. The Grand Inquisitor, the Archbishop Don Francis de Castro, instituted this rule, which was the harshest rule of Holy Inquisition effective in Portugal between 1640 and 1774. The Holy Inquisition targeted the New Christians, the Conversos, also known as Marranos or Crypto-Jews, who had converted to Christianity, in order to avoid the expulsion from the Iberian Peninsula, but secretly kept their Jewish customs and traditions.
General view of the display case titled “Military Memorabilia”.
The diary of Daniel Sevilia. Daniel was born in Athens in 1900 and grew up in a neighbourhood near the synagogue. Along with his brother Errikos, he went to the Asia Minor front in 1919. In 1920, Daniel was promoted to second lieutenant. In his diary, he gave a detailed account of the developments on the front in the summer of 1921. Daniel was killed in October 1921 on the battlefield. Errikos returned with his dead brother’s diary and rebuilt his life in Athens. He took part in the Greek-Italian War of 1940–41. He was arrested in March 1944 and sent to Auschwitz, from which he survived. Errikos mentioned his brother in the memoirs about his experiences in the camp. “Asia Minor remained more etched in my heart because that is where I buried my brother, the second lieutenant.”
The surgical tools of Dr. Nissim Cohen that he used in the Second Mountain Surgery at the Albanian Front.
Mordochai Frizis, Captain of the Greek Army.
Wall hanging, inspired by the famous photograph of Theodor Herzl overlooking the Rhine from the balcony of his room in the “The Three Kings” Hotel in Basle during the First Zionist Congress. This photograph served commonly also as a source for the design of Herzl’s portrait on decorative items that found their way into many Jewish households. In this example, the original background of the photograph has here become the Tower of David in Jerusalem in front of a rising sun and a group of Jewish pioneers returning to Eretz Israel, the Land of Israel. The tapestry was manufactured in the weaving department of the “Alliance Israélite Universelle” Trade School in Jerusalem in the early decades of the 20th century, as part of a series featuring portraits of Zionist leaders, bearing witness to the short revival of Jewish carpet-making at the time.
Stock certificate issued by the Salonica-Palestine Company to Ouriel Negrin, Salonika, 02/05/1928.