The rich history of the Jewish People on the island of Rhodes Greece starts many centuries ago. Known as the Rhodesli today, that is the Jewish of Rhodes, some live in Juderia Quarter, next to the pier of the cruise ships in the Old Town of Rhodes, and others live abroad. The history of the Jews of Rhodes, which is presented in the Jewish Museum of Rhodes, is marked by the Holocaust of the Second World War. The Jewish Community obtained a great power especially during the Ottoman Empire, as that time all Jewish communities were considered self-governing bodies. Their private and communal life was organized according to their laws and traditions and all these centuries of their presence in Rhodes they played an important role in the spiritual and economic development of the island.
In fact, in 1927, a Rabbinical College was established that worked till 1937. However, the anti-Jewish laws posed in 1938 by the Italians, who were that time ruling the Dodecanese islands, forced 2,000 out of the 4,000 Jews of Rhodes to immigrate. In 1944, all Jew men, women and children of Rhodes were concentrated and they were transferred to the concentration camp of Auschwitz. Out of the 1,673 Jews of Rhodes that were transferred to Auschwitz, only 150 survived the end of the war.
Today, the Jewish Community of Rhodes is small but they want to preserve and remember their history. With the initiative of Mr Aron Hasson, a Rhodesli living in Los Angeles, USA, and with the help of all the Jews living on the island, the Jewish Museum of Rhodes was established in 1997 and it is housed in the Kahal Shalom Synagogue. "I saw there was a need for the visitors to Rhodes to understand that there was a Jewish community devastated by the Holocaust", told us Mr Hasson, explaining his idea to create this museum. "It is located in the 6 rooms adjoining the Kehila Shalom synagogue. The 6 rooms of the museum were built by the Crusaders.
The Kehila Shalom, also known as the Kahal Shalom, is the oldest Jewish synagogue in Greece, established in the 1500's. Our exhibits are valuable. We have two Jewish burial stones from 1593 and 1655. We also have a 15th century old Torah on display and a few costumes worn by Rhodesli Jews dating from the 19th century. Most of the exhibits were collected by me from Rhodesli Diaspora families (families from around the world). They consist of artifacts and photographs". Today only 25 people form the Jewish Community of Rhodes.
The Jewish Museum of Rhodes is open daily from April to October, 10.00 am to 03.00 pm, Saturdays closed. It is located in Drossatou street, Old Town of Rhodes.