A world that was

Maintaining the memory of an ancient Jewish community.

By JUDITH SUDILOVSKY
August 19, 2015 18:45
Jews of Rhodes

Interior of Kahal Shalom, the oldest synagogue in Greece and the only surviving one on Rhodes. (photo credit: JUDITH SUDILOVSKY)

 
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RHODES, Greece — Officially, the square located in what was once the heart of the Jewish Quarter ‒ or “La Juderia” ‒ of the City of Rhodes is called the Square of the Jewish Martyrs. In reality it is known as the Sea Horse Square, because of the quaint fountain decorated with three sea horses located there, on the road formerly known as “La Calle Ancha,” which means “The Wide Street” in Ladino, the language spoken by much of the Jewish community of Rhodes before they were deported and murdered by the Nazis in July 1944.

Under shady trees in the square, a black marble monument is dedicated to the memory of these 1,604 Jews from Rhodes and the nearby smaller island of Kos. But at the start of the tourist season, most of the visitors to Rhodes, the largest of the Greek Dodecanese islands located just off the Anatolian coast of Turkey, are more interested in having their pictures taken with the array of exotic parrots and birds a restaurant a few meters away uses to drum up business than reflecting on a lost community’s tragic past.

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