Jewish Museum in Athens and Jewish Synagogues

Visiting them can really open your mind to history

Jewish Museum in Athens and Jewish Synagogues

If you really want to travel and explore cultures and life, you must visit the museums of the places you go. That is why we went to the Jewish Museum in Athens. We believe that people have more in common than differences. Having visited Dachau a year ago, visiting this museum was something natural to do, as Dachau remains quite an emotional place.

A thorough tour inside the Jewish Museum of Athens, with a knowledgable guide, is primarily a mind opening experience. As the museum is mostly about the history of Greek Jews, we found out that that history goes way back in time.

Our guide was Eleni from Urban Athens Collective. She loves Athens and its history. That, along with her passion to communicate the different cultural aspects of this city (and her studies in European history), were extremely helpful, so we learned a ton of things.

Jewish Museum in Athens

Inside the 3 floors of the Jewish Museum of Athens, you will see significant facts and relics of Jewish history in Greece, along with its course during the ages. The Jewish population of Greece was analogically small but strong. That community suffered a lot (as many others) during the 2nd World War, but also thrived in many levels.

Below see the fake id cards issued by the Greek government so Jews could show Christian names and avoid captivity by Germans.

Jewish Museum in Athens and Jewish Synagogues

Clothes from a concentration camp, offered to the museum by a Greek Jew survivor.

Jewish Museum in Athens and Jewish Synagogues

A variety of items returned to Greek Jews community after the war.

Jewish Museum in Athens and Jewish Synagogues

But the reference in World War 2 is just a part of the whole history.

The first things we noticed were a number of similarities and influence of Jew culture into the Greek culture and vice versa. As Jew communities were spread all over Greece, they were influenced a lot by local factors.

Similarities can be seen in clothing, jewels and everyday objects.

Jewish Museum in Athens and Jewish SynagoguesJewish Museum in Athens and Jewish SynagoguesJewish Museum in Athens and Jewish Synagogues

The museum is better to be walked from bottom up. There is a reason for that as you will experience how Greek Jew history and culture evolved during the ages. Plus, you will see that despite the World War Holocaust, their history didn’t stop but continued.

There is a real Synagogue setting (the one of Patras) in one of the floors, with all the ritual objects that are used.

This here is one of the 2 pieces the consist the Synagogue setting. Behind the veil, the scriptures are kept away from public.

Jewish Museum in Athens and Jewish Synagogues

Below: Different Tora cases (Sephardic and Romaniote). The cloth in the middle comes from wedding garments. People used to modify their wedding garments and offered them to be used as veils.

Jewish Museum in Athens and Jewish SynagoguesJewish Museum in Athens and Jewish Synagogues

Protected behind glass and in controlled temperature are Tik cases. They were used to keep in the Sepher Tora.

Jewish Museum in Athens and Jewish Synagogues

In different floors you will also see elements from the daily life, used in religious anniversaries and different festivities.

Jewish Museum in Athens and Jewish SynagoguesJewish Museum in Athens and Jewish Synagogues

Below: Different types of oil lamps. All have 8 plus 1 containers.

Jewish Museum in Athens and Jewish Synagogues

Here are sweets (look like made of clay but are not) that were prepared for special holidays.

Jewish Museum in Athens and Jewish Synagogues

Below: A Menorah.

Jewish Museum in Athens and Jewish Synagogues

The visitor will also see tools and artifacts used in circumcision and in other rituals.

We really think this is a must to visit. It will bring down many stereotypes which you may have picked up around.

Synagogues of Athens

The 2 Synagogues are located in a different (10-15 mins walking distance) location and one is opposite to the other. You need to get through a security check, around 1 day prior being allowed to visit the Synagogues.

The reason that are 2 so close to each other has to do with a variation in the culture of Jews.

So there is the Sephardic Synagogue of Athens (Beth Shalom Synangogue) and the Romaniote one (Etz Hayyim).

This one is the Beth Salom.

Jewish Museum in Athens and Jewish SynagoguesJewish Museum in Athens and Jewish Synagogues

Below: The exterior and interior of Etz Hayyim.

Jewish Museum in Athens and Jewish SynagoguesJewish Museum in Athens and Jewish Synagogues

Both are places of worship, so the visitor must act accordingly and respect the culture.

The decoration is simple, yet visually imposing.

A few meters outside of the Synagogues there is a small park that oversees Kerameikos area, where a monument that resembles the Star of David is situated. This is a memorial for the Holocaust, where 88% of the Greek Jews were exterminated during WWII.

Jewish Museum in Athens and Jewish SynagoguesJewish Museum in Athens and Jewish Synagogues

Things to have in mind

The Jewish Museum in Athens is located at Nikis 39, Athens 105 57, Tel.: +30 210 32 25 582. It is in a 5 minutes walking distance from the Metro station of Syntagma. It is best to visit it with a guide, otherwise you won’t learn much.

Both Synagogues are located at 8 and 5 of Melidoni Street, Athens 105 53, near Thiseio.

Thiseio is a popular area, very close to Metro, where you can additionally visit, find and eat  different things. You need to pass a security check 1 day prior visiting the Synangogues. A guide will arrange for that.

Have a great time. Ιf you want to book with the tour Urban Athens Collective you can do it via Visit.org in this link.

Jewish Museum in Athens and Jewish Synagogues

9 COMMENTS

  1. What a fantastic place. I never been visited Jewish Museum but this Museum is very interesting to visit. I love to see all detail how the Jewish people living and all the traditional clothes. Love the Jewish candle holder, looks very unique and vintage. Thank you for sharing.

    Kintan
    http://kintanfashion.blogspot.com

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