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40 years of active presence

Saturday, June 10, 2023

    The Cycle of Life

    This level of the permanent exhibition includes a small sitting room, specially designed to offer the visitor a brief rest, a characteristic example of middle-class architecture of the Ottoman period. This is the “Oda”, or “Nice Room”, or “Reception Room”, or “Archontariki”, as it has been called in traditional Greek architectural terminology. The Oda was the center of the middle-class house, and its architecture and form was common to Muslim, Jews and Christians. The walls were decorated with geometrical motives, floral themes, mundane and bucolic representations, and joyful scenes in frames. On the Oda, which was covered with the best carpets, were low and relaxing benches or minteria or built couches, used by family members and by guests for relaxing and sleeping. The Jews in Greece used the Oda also for engagements, weddings, and circumcisions. The wooden frames which decorated the walls were painted by the first director of the Museum, the dearly departed Nikos Stavroulakis, in order to cover the walls of the Oda in the former Museum building. They were installed here, in commemoration of his important contribution to the Jewish Museum of Greece.

    Between the “Oda” and the display case of the cycle of life, there are two display cases, recent additions of the  JMG, dedicated to the Jews of Crete. The exhibits presented are primarily heirlooms of the families Capon, Minerbo, and Albert in combination with relevant artefacts from the JMG collections. The displays include among other items, jewelry, photographs, documents and religious objects, dating back to the end of the 19th century. In addition to objects from the time of the German Occupation, belonged to the persecuted Jews of the island.

    The display on the same level is also associated with the home: the everyday life of the Greek Jews and the cycle of life. Jewish life has always been centred in the synagogue, a place of prayer and study, and in the Jewish home, where traditions are preserved and passed on. Holidays, ceremonies and rituals, the preparation of food, lighting of candles, blessing of children and many other domestic rites, make the Jewish home a holy place. Family life has always been highly regarded in the Jewish tradition; therefore, a marriage was a very important event in any community and followed a set sequence of rituals in Greece, starting with the official betrothal and culminating in the religious ceremony and joyous, extensive festivities. 

    Click here to see selected artefacts