THE JEWISH COMMUNITY OF ZAKYNTHOS
An island of the Ionian, Zakynthos bears strong traces of the Jewish tradition. In 1522, 30 Jewish families lived on the island and a Synagogue was functioning.
Until 1712, the Community had two Synagogues: the "Zakynthine" and the "Cretan", which took its name from the Jews of Crete who settled on the island after the occupation of Crete by the Ottomans, in 1669. The first suffered seriously damaged by the earthquake that hit the Ionian Islands in 1953, and the second Synagogue is today completely destroyed.
During the German Occupation, the Germans asked the then Mayor of the island Loukas Karrer and the Metropolitan Chrysostomos for a list of the Jews of Zakynthos. Thanks to the firm refusal of these two agents to hand over the list, the Jews were saved, hiding in the remote villages of the island. Expressing their gratitude, the Jews of Greece erected a monument in memory of these two brave men at the site of the old Synagogue. The traveler can visit the monument at 44 Terceti Street. Today there is no longer a Community in Zakynthos but the visitor can visit the cemetery located at Rouvelis and contains graves of great historical importance.
In 2010, Samuel Mordos, of Zakynthian origin, published his book "The Jews of Zakynthos - A Chronicle of Five Centuries" where he gathers historical data from the course of the Jews on the island.
In 2014, on the initiative of the Zakynthos Jews of Athens and America, they were placed in the area of the historic Jewish Cemetery of Zakynthos two marble inscriptions. The first marble inscription refers to the approximately seventy Zakynthian Jews who during the period of the Occupation resided in Corfu and Chania, consequently being counted among the six million victims of the Holocaust.
The second marble inscription refers to the Zakynthian Jewish soldier Moses Fortes, who fell, fighting heroically, on the Greek-Albanian Front, on December 23, 1940, during the victorious advance of the Greek Army into Albanian territory and, specifically, during the battle, on Hill 1220 , east of Kleisoura.
DOCUMENTARY ABOUT THE JEWS OF ZAKYNTHUS
In two screenings, on March 5 and 7, 2002, the film - documentary by Tonis Lykouresis "The Song of Life (Sir A Hayim): The Jewish community of Zakynthos", at the Thessaloniki Documentary Festival, which this year had the theme "Images of the 21st Century".
The director Mr. Tonis Lykouresis, who also worked as a historical researcher for this project, presents the course of the Jewish community of Zakynthos from the 15th century until today, focusing most of his film on the period of the German Occupation, where thanks to the heroism and the support of the island's Christians (officials and ordinary people) not a single member was lost. The director presents this course through the journey of a young Jewish woman who meets all the surviving members of the community who live either in Zakynthos or in Israel, as well as the Christians and their relatives who were involved in their rescue from the Nazis.
It is a documentary that uses pieces of current events, photographic material, interviews and comments, with special care and real emotion, to illuminate a page unknown to many from our recent history. Filming took place in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, where today many Jews of Zakynthos live preserving the traditions of the island, as well as in Athens, Zakynthos and Corfu. Historical and archival material was provided by EME and KIS.