Wednesday, 14 March 2012

The Synagogue of Corfu and a short history of the jewish community

    Before the Second World War around 5,000 jews were living in Corfu Town that lived in the island at least for 1800 years. In the 12th century, according to historian Gregorovius, only one jude lived in Corfu but in the 13th century, during the Angevins sovereignity, many jews had been transpoted to the island. The next big influx of Jews occured in 1493, caused by the presecution of the spanish and portuguese jewish population. In 1549, more Jews arrived from the Apulia region of Italy who joined the the spanish and portuguese ones and were rivals with the other older jewish community, called "Romaniotiki". In 1577, there were 400 Jews living in Corfu. Most of them lived in the Campiello district, which back then was also called "Ovreovouni" (greek for "Jewish Hill"). In 1622, the venetian authorities forced the Jewish population to leave Campiello and move to the area between Porta Reale and Porta di Spilia. This area later was known as "Evraiki", which means "Jewish quarter", a name that still survives up to our days. The community was flourishing until the 1940s when most of them died in Auswitz by the germans. Nowadays, there are around 120 corfiot jews still living in the island.

   There were three synagogues in the jewish district: two of them belonged to the Jews from Apulia, but had been destroyed by the 1943 german bombings. The only one surviving is the Scuola Greca on Velissariou street, a naive 19th century building which had been built on the site of an older jewish temple. The interior is as simplistic as the exterior. There are services every Saturday, attended by the majority of the community.


Özer Utku said...

I did 3 days on the island of Corfu. Dream as nice. Memories of the island of Corfu have written here. You told you so nice. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Hi John, I read your post on Jewish Corfu. I am going to be in Corfu town next weekend and was wondering if you know whether the community has services over the Sabbath.

Maybe you know who is the head of the community and and how I can get in touch with him.

Thanks for any help you can supply me with.