The Synagogue of Larissa, symbolically named “Etz Hayim” (The Tree of Life), which made the life of Jewish people of this city “blossom”, is today a ruin at risk of collapse…
The beautiful, simple, imposing building, with the enormous historical and cultural value, severely damaged by its 160 years of life, was delivered in October 2019 to the hands of experts, who studied its static adequacy in order to start support works. The findings were disappointing because, apart from the visible damages, numerous other invisible problems arose, which rendered the building inadequate and dangerous. Everything was removed from the Synagogue which has been temporarily supported, expecting the funding to continue the restoration works recommended by the team of experienced engineers.
Since the Synagogue has been closed for more than a year, the Rabbi, the Board and the members of the Community make every possible effort to keep the religious life and traditions alive: services are performed at the small Community Center, Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur were celebrated under a tent at the school yard, weddings and other events are hosted in hotel halls… the Jews of Larissa have been extremely inventive until their beloved Synagogue becomes again the center where the heart of Jewish life beats…
The restoration of the “Etz Hayim” Synagogue is linked to the very effort of the historical Jewish Community of Larissa to continue to exist. However, it is a project of huge costs that the Community of Larissa is unable to afford. For this reason, with the support of the Central Board of Jewish Communities in Greece, we turn for help to the Greek and global Jewish world, to organizations and individuals.
We address to you, to all our fellow Jews in Greece and abroad, to you who were born in Larissa and have linked the “Ka-al” to your most beautiful memories, to you who learned to love it through stories of your mates and parents, to you who visited our Synagogue and were touched by its beauty and history, to you who want to contribute to preserving the Jewish religious and cultural heritage in our city. We appeal to you for financial assistance for the restoration of our Synagogue, the pillar of our Jewish life.
For any clarification, please do not hesitate to contact the JCL (email@example.com) and the Central Board of Jewish Communities in Greece (firstname.lastname@example.org). You can donate through the following bank accounts held by the Jewish Community of Larissa:
EUROBANK in €
NATIONAL BANK OF GREECE in €
EUROBANK in $
or though livepay on the website of JCL: https://www.livepay.gr/jcl.aspx
The names of all donors will be published on a special list – scrapbook. The names of sponsors (from €500), great donors (from €2.000) and benefactors (from €10.000) will be engraved on a special sculpture that will be created and unveiled at the re-opening ceremony of the Synagogue.
Every donation to this purpose, is a benefaction.
Let’s all help the Synagogue of Larissa be rebuilt!
Historical information about the Synagogue of Larissa
The Synagogue of Larissa is one of the oldest buildings of the city, an example of traditional architecture and a monument of great historical and cultural value. It has a “strict” exterior appearance but its interior is beautiful and imposing in its all-white bright simplicity. It was built in 1866 in the heart of the Jewish neighborhood of a traditional Sephardic community which had been remarkably present for centuries in Larissa.
Until now, it has operated continuously under the guidance of worthy Rabbis as the second home for all Community members. It hosted their prayers on Saturdays and all Jewish holidays. It was proud of the participation of the children of the Jewish school in the services, which is a unique peculiarity of the Community of Larissa. It welcomed the expatriates when coming back to their birthplace. It blessed countless weddings, Bar and Bat Mitzvahs (religious adulting ceremonies for Jewish boys and girls), Berit Mila and Fadario (naming ceremonies for Jewish baby boys and girls). It hosted community activities, open to the local authorities and non-Jewish friends such as events for Holocaust Remembrance Day. Moreover, in recent years, it has become a popular destination for visits of schools, students and groups of Jewish tourists from all over the world, as well as a favorite subject for theses and research papers.
It withstood the terrible earthquakes that shook the area, resisted the pervasive humidity and is the only Synagogue of Larissa, out of 7 once existed, which survived. During the Nazi occupation, it was looted and used as a stable by the conquerors. Nevertheless, it was reconstructed with love by the Holocaust survivors and continued to keep the Community alive.
Despite the repairs and maintenance works it received at times, the building which was built with adobe bricks, wooden columns and without deep foundation, according to old building methods, is now severely damaged with obvious signs of its 160 years of life. At the end of 2019, the Synagogue was closed so that the necessary studies on the static adequacy can be carried out and then the restoration works will follow.
The goal and hope of the Jewish Community of Larissa is that this project will be completed shortly and the “Etz Hayim” Synagogue will again become the religious home and epicenter of the Jewish life of this city.