Talk:Romaniote Jews

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From the article:

"During World War II, Romaniotes were protected by the Greek government until the Nazi occupation. Although the Germans deported a great number of Greek Jews, scores of them were hidden by their Greek neighbours."

What is this, "good news about the holocaust"? As I understand it, 80-90% of Greece's Jews were killed in the holocaust, and I imagine the numbers were comparable for Romaniotes as to others. Does anyone have any pre- and post-war population numbers for the Romaniotes? It would be a useful addition to the article. -- Jmabel 06:35, 15 Apr 2004 (UTC)

Expanding on my previous remark, this article is missing good numbers on the Romaniote population at any time or place, and what little information it has contradicts itself. -- Jmabel 22:37, 20 May 2004 (UTC)

Hello there... Although I do not have numbers of the Romaniote population before and after the war, I know for sure that the percentage of them that perished during the Holocaust is not as high as that of the Sephardic Jews. This, however, doesn't have to do with their Greek neigbours' response to the threat; the Greeks did the same for the Sephardim too.
The Romaniotes could use the Greek language better and more efficiently than the Sephardim, who spoke Ladino and their Greek had a distinct, "singing" accent. That made the Sephardim more vulnerable as targets, and was one of the many factors that lead to such great losses.
Etz Haim 21:36, 4 Sep 2004 (UTC)
I think user Etz Haim, in good faith, is using a certain logic but not a source to back up the supposed result of higher survival among Romaniotes. That is a problem. Because while the Romaniotes had some linguistic blending into the population advantage over older Sephardim (younger Sephardim were typcially native in Greek by 1940 given that they had been born Greek citizens), Etz Haim is missing a factor in the other direction, alternate citizenship. IE many Sephardim were able to obtain Spanish, Portuguese or Turkish papers immediately before and during the occupation and thereby escape to neutral countries. (talk) 22:35, 29 November 2011 (UTC)

i don't know if is the right place to post but i've found this news

The Jewish presence in Athens dates from the 3rd century BC. A Jewish synagogue discovered at the Ancient Agora, at the foothills of the Acropolis, bears witness to the existence of a Jewish community in this ancient city since at least the 3rd century BC.

Some one can tell me if is true or fals? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 14:21, 8 May 2009 (UTC)


i've been doing research on greece for as long as i can remember, and i still know very little about the romaniotes.

Gringo300 09:43, 13 October 2005 (UTC)

"Greek Jews" and "Jews in Greece"[edit]

I have just done some editing in this article, moslty incorporating stuff from the Greece article, and I have also tried to make this article a bit more structured, but there is one thing that bugs me: Jews in Greece is redirected to Romaniotes, and this article talks about Romaniotes in particular and about Jews in Greece (Romaniotes AND Sephardim) in general. Subgroup and supergroup. There is an ambiguity every time there is something to be said. I tried to fix this followng the pattern "This happened to Jews in Greece, this happened to Romaniotes in particular", but I think there should be some more clarification on the matter. Personally speaking all I know about Jews in Greece comes from wikipedia, so please anyone who knows a bit more (Etz Haim?) help clarify this! Michalis Famelis 08:25, 4 November 2005 (UTC)

Michalis, thanks for notifying me for this. Jews in Greece have been and are predominantly Sephardic, although in the past Ashkenazic communities have existed as well. It should be made clear that the Romaniotes are a minority subgroup of the Greek Jewry. Etz Haim 15:28, 4 November 2005 (UTC)
Jews in Greece should be an article, not a redirect. Romaniotes should be mentioned, and linked to, in its first paragraph, as should Sephardim. -- Jmabel | Talk 22:06, 5 November 2005 (UTC)
Jews in Greece could be a great article, there is 2000 years of history to tell. The Romaniotes made the Septuagint, didn't they? I quick Google search for "Romaniotes", but excluding the word "Wikipedia" yields 839 websites. That's a good starting point, but it still doesn't give much on the rest of the Jewish population in Greece (Sefardim). Izehar 22:35, 5 November 2005 (UTC)
It is a "wikipedia custom" to have such temporary redirects until someone writes the article. There are a lot Greek Jews and they have interesting history. +MATIA 23:20, 5 November 2005 (UTC)
Correction: there were a lot of Greek Jews. Now, there just under 5000 of them and with the increasing number of aliyot, that number is dwindling. I would also like to point out to Etz Haim that the Sefardi Jews had the protection of the Spanish government at the time of WWII. They even granted Spanish citizenship to Sefardi Jews on request and Franco explicitly asked Hitler not to molest the "Spanish Jews" in any way. Of course, that didn't make much of a difference, but it helped certain Jewish communities survive the Holocaust. The Jewish communities of countries such as Greece, Bulgaria and Hungary, which had large Sefardi communities, as opposed to most other countries in Europe which had predominantly Ashkenazi populations, have survived the Holocaust, as opposed to countries such as Poland, where there are literally no Jews left today. Izehar 23:32, 5 November 2005 (UTC)

This is a pet interest of mine as I have a Jewish ancestor from Thrace and I have done quite a bit of reading on this as well as travel in the region looking up old communities.

To be frank the reason why you don't see a lot of mention of "Romaniotes" is that their fate runs completely counter to the accepted view of what happened during the Ottoman conquest. In short the big Romamiote communities in Salonika, constantinople and other areas were obliterated by the Ottomans. The fascinating and important history of the Sephardim has developed to be grateful at the Ottoman actions after the expulsions from Spain, as it should be, but there seems to have been a discomofort in the past to properly examine as to what happened to the "Romaniotes." What happened to them was expulsion, forced conversion, enslavement and massacre along with the rest of the populations of Salonkia and Constantinople as well as other cities where they had major populations.

Even after the conquest, the Ottoman sürgün (exile and resettlement) policies towards the Romaniot (and Karaite) Jews consituted what we would see today as a mass ethnic cleansing.

Please do read some of the excellent research by Joseph Hacker, the preeminient historian of this, as well as the work of Minna Rozen.

I will add some material to this page as well as the page on the Jews of Turkey, which very much overlooks the early years, both the thriving commuinties during the Byzantine empire and te newer work on the fate of the Romaniotes during the conquest.

The categorization is difficult, because if we are going with geographic areas, whci seems to be the style used in the "Jews of Turkey" page, it must indclude the very strong communities there during Byzantine Empire. the certainly deserve as much space and attention as during the Ottoman Empire. As it stands now it just goes over 1,000 years Jewish life in the Byzantine Empire in Asia Minor as though this never happned. (I added the word Byzantine Empire and someone deleted it! lol)

I think these topics should be split into 1. Sephardim and Romaniotes pages with sections on the areas of curent Greece, Turkey as well as Eastern Roman, Byzantine Greek, Ottoman Turkish and Modern Greek and Modern Turkish sections, pluse teh etc, including the fate of Salonka and the Romaniotes kept dominated by Romaniotes.

Splitting the into main pages for each current geographic area (Jews of Greece, Jews of Turkey") creates confusion as areas have been integrated and under common rule for 96%% of the time in question (500 bce - 1900 ce). DaveHM 22:59, 9 November 2005 (UTC)

This article needs to be retitled or needs a lot more information added. It is not about the Romaniote Jews of the Hellenic, Hellenistic, or Byzantine worlds, but about those of Greece. There is precisely zero information, for instance, on the topic of Romaniotes of Constantinople, where they were an important and to some extent assimilated part of Greek Byzantine culture for almost a thousand years. Whatever one may say about the Ottoman Conquest and the policy of population transfers, it seems to have brought still more Romaniotes into the capital, and decline seems to have occurred primarily through competition with and eventual assimilation by the Sephardic newcomers. This information I have from an article by Julia Krivoruchko in the book "Developing Cultural Identity in the Balkans," but I don't have access to it in order to expand the article myself. Meanwhile, I would be interested in knowing if there is any Romaniote community left at all in Turkey. Winter Maiden (talk) 04:32, 7 April 2013 (UTC)


i've recently read that the word "yevanim" is hebrew for "greeks". however, in the contexts i've read this in, it appears that yevanim isn't being used specifically for the romaniotes. Gringo300 17:51, 10 November 2005 (UTC)

Could it be possible that "yevanim" means "Greeks" in general, not just "greek jews" or "Romaniotes" in particular? Here is an extract from the Names of the Greeks aricle: "The related name, Yavan or Javan (יָוָן), was used to refer to the Greek nation in the Eastern Mediterranean in early Biblical times. There was an eponymous character Javan mentioned in Genesis 10:2." Michalis Famelis 20:47, 10 November 2005 (UTC)
That would not be unusual: consider Maghrebim. -- Jmabel | Talk 18:43, 11 November 2005 (UTC)
No different than the term romaniotes itself, which is pretty much Greek for Romans. I think you are going to find this history will get deep into the fact that a huge number of Jews in the Greek cities, including all along the south coast of asia minor and even more broadly thoughout the Hellenistic empire whould have been speaking Greek and adopted many cultural attributes. Various names are going to have mixed and shifting meanings as the culture war which really centuries from the time of the first mass adoptioon of Greek customs, creating Jewish response to those adoptions, to centuries later when the initial Christian communites outside the holy land were Jewish communites who converted in the same cities three hundred years later. After all, half the time when we say "Greeks" around the history of Hanukkah, we are talking our own people who were in an intermediate position bwtween being Greek and Jewish. One could easily argue that a huge popluation of Jews was very Greek at the time in question. —Preceding unsigned comment added by DaveHM (talkcontribs) 11 Nov 2005


Text should not be changed to remove fact, suppotted by all historians and first person accounts, that Bulgarian authorities deported to death camps all Jews in the Greek territory they occupied. DaveHM 02:20, 6 December 2005 (UTC)

[Sorry I edited one of the comments above before,I reinsert it here for clarity's sake and will delete the first insertion afterwards]

Hopefully I am doing this right since it's my first contribution here.Anyway here are my remarks regarding the Holocaust period: The idea of heavy greek private and goverment aid during the Holocaust is ridiculous.When 97% of the Thessaloniki jew's died how can any kind of aid be suggested?!The only mass aid ever given was Police Chief's Evert actions which led to the limited number of some jews being saved. On the Orthodox Churche's aid one must note the brave attempt of Archibissop Damaskinos to hinder the deportation but his words were not repeated by any local church leader ,nor were they accompanied by any practical action other than the local bishop of Zakynthos. My sayings are proved by the fact that the greek authorities denied the making of a Holocaust memorial,on the Jewish Community's expenses,till the late 90's plus the systematic efforts to ignore the city's past. In any case they cannot be considered anything more than marginal phenomena and with limited appeal.I would change it to "despite limited efforts of the central Orthodox church,which did not encounter serious support in the local authorities the Romaniotes community suffered the same fate as the rest..."

And that brings me to the next subject which is the fact that in the article the romaniotes had a better fate.This is completely incorrect.The best "rates" of survival were by the Athen's jews due to their integration to the local society and lack of extensive antisemitic feelings in the local population.The Romaniotes,or what was left from them,suffered the similar fates of the sefardim.

The numbers on the front page are also incorrect since practically the Romaniotes community has ceased to exist to any place other than Jannena and even there,they're not the majority on a ever diminuishing jewish presence.

In general,and I regret to say this,I found many gross inaccuracies and lot's of "makeup" for the Holocaust period.I'll try to gather some data and try to fix this one together. :) Iws 1 Jan 2006

Hello Iws, and welcome to wikipedia. You can sign your contributions in talk pages using four tildes (~~~~). Concerning the your remarks, I would like to note the following:
  • See this text piece from the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum site [1]
Several factors contributed the the loss of such a large number of Jews from Thessaloniki. Thessaloniki was under direct German occupation. (my note here: most of Greece was under Italian occupation and the Italians were not as eager as the Nazis to go after Jews. Note that the greatest slaughter took place after 1943 when Italy surrendered to the Allies and the whole of Greece came under Nazi occupation) The Jewish community was highly concentrated in the city. Jews had no idea that they were going to killing centers; they believed the German subterfuge that they were going to work in Poland. Moreover, the controversial Head Rabbi, Koretz, reportedly assisted the Germans in organizing efficient roundups. Because the Jews of Thessaloniki spoke Ladino, their spoken Greek was easily distinguishable. While the possibility of escape existed, most Jews, fearing separation from their families, did not take advantage of the available escape options.
(This text is most likely copyright, and to mention it here solely for verification and disputing reason I believe is not copyright infringment. If we are to use this as a source for this article we should follow standard wikipedia policy on such matters)
  • Also, according to the same source, there was more from the Orthodox Church than just the actions of Archbishop Damaskinos of Athens, and Bishop Christostomos of Zakynthos. There was also Bishop Ioakim of Volos who worked together with Rabbi Pessah of Volos and the Greek resistance. And also you should note that what Archbishop Damaskinos said was not just words: apart from formally protesting he also secretly ordered all parishes in his jurisdiction to issue fake baptism certificates for all the jews that requested them, which means that there were many local parish priests that were as heroic as their Archbishop. And even apart from that the fact that Damaskinos was the only religious leader in occupied Europe that stood his people's ground and formally protested at the risk of his own execution cannot be played down. He was the head of the Autocephalous Orthodox Church of Greece so his voice stands for the whole, does it not?
  • Do not ignore the fact that in both Thessaloniki, and Ioannina (where there was the greatest concentration of Sephardim and Romaniotes respectively) it was the mistakes of the leaders of the Jewish communities themselves that resulted in deportations (of course it was not really their fault but the Nazi's fault!). See the same above source for Rabbi Koretz (Thessaloniki) and see this excerpt from the Ioannina part [2]:
In March 1944, however, the president of the Jewish community in Ioannina, Dr. Moses Koffinas, was arrested. While detained, he learned of German plans to deport Jews, and smuggled a note out to Sabetai Kabelis, a prominent member of the Jewish Community Board, advising the Jews to flee. Unfortunately, Kabelis chose not to relay the warning to the Jews of Ioannina, and on March 25, 1944, the entire Jewish community of 1,860 people, including Kabelis himself, was deported to Auschwitz-Birkenau. Kabelis realized too late his error in judgement.
  • Of course, according to the same source from the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, there were places in Greece were the local Greek authorities actively supported the Holocaust, namely Kerkyra with its traitorous collaborationist pigMayor Kollas. But even at such bad conditions where 1800 of the 2000 local Jews went to Auswitz there were a total of 200 Jews that "found sanctuary among local christian families". [3].
To sum it up, I believe that the Nazis practiced one of the harshest versions of the Holocaust in occupied Greece, so harsh that, combined with major mistakes such as those by Rabbi Koretz, even the active resistance against it did not manage to do more than it eventually did. Having this in mind please do find more data and edit the article!!
-- Michalis Famelis 14:41, 2 January 2006 (UTC)

Hopefully,I'm adding the comment in the right way now,(thanks for fixing the mess I created before).

The problem with sources on the shoah in Greece is the fact that there has been a substancial indifference on this subject by the official greek state.Evidence of this,(and I think that on this we can all agree),are the lack of any mention in the school textbooks and in general any official mention,(the first circular of the Ministry of Education was released only this year and linked to political goals,while the MemorialDay has been an extremely recent event).

More info can be found in Giorgos Margaritis book "Unwanted Compatriots" ( [ ΑΝΕΠΙΘΥΜΗΤΟΙ ΣΥΜΠΑΤΡΙΩΤΕΣ].

Bottom line is that I don't say that there haven't been proved and numerous cases of salvation.Yad Vashem has documented them. But with a 97,5% in Thessaloniki and more than 75% in the rest of Greece it is very difficult to continue supporting that there was an extensive effort to save jews.And no,the german occupation in Greece was not the harshest possible,the cases of Poland,Hungary and Yugoslavia were far harder.I would agree if you compared it to the Denmark occupation,(which by the way saved almost all of it's jews) or France's.

The Damaskinos's declaration is an extraordinary act but did not meet any answer from the local clergy.I have tried intesively to find an online catalogue with the names of the Righteous Among the Nations which will prove the lack of presence of the local priests but I haven't found anything better than this. [4] In any case I can personally testify for the use of tombstones in churche's yards deriving from the destroyed 500.000 strong cemetary,(uppon it lies half of the Aristotle University hastily built in '43 as to exploit the event,much to the respect of the dead and to those who support the presumed extensive help of the local authorities).

I intend to add a lot of information deriving from a small article from the Central Jewish Board [5] Plus I would like to change some other info such as population which should be over 500,with a total of greek jews of 2500. Also bring the external help from the population to it's real dimensions which,(although I agree with your statements on it's greater extensions if compared to Thessaloniki and for the reasons you mentioned),I believe it's much too enlarged and emphasized.

I am not aware of the exact procedure since we disagree.For example I can edit the article.Why shouldn't you change it afterwards?If all this is to be discussed in another seat please indicate which so that we can continue there.--Iws 19:38, 7 January 2006 (UTC)

Oh, by all means, I do not disagree with your opinion, I only made some remarks, which I hope you will bear in mind when editing. Take a look here or here to see some real, bloody, ferocious disagreements!!! Please, go ahead and edit the article. I am looking forward to see your changes! Only bear these in mind as a wikipedian: "Be bold in editing", "Assume good faith", "Neutral Point of View", "the edit cycle".
The articles in wikipedia are not the property of anyone in particular, they are GNU licenced. And of course I can and I will change parts of your edits I believe can be bettered; and that goes not only for me but for any other wikipedia editor like you and me who is potentially interested in making this article better. That is how wikipedia works and that is how this article was created and from being a stub with only a couple of lines has reached this (not yet perfect) status.
So, by all means, click that damn "edit" button!!! -- Michalis Famelis 21:34, 7 January 2006 (UTC)
Editor IWS makes a logical mistake based on his lack of knowledge of the context. A lot of this percentage of fatalities by country was hashed out when Goldfarb's book came out on the Shoah in Poland.
Hacks may conflate percentage of death with culpability of occupied general population but serious Holcaust shcolars do not. Why? Because it perverts the facts. Here is an example: Bulgaria had a relatively low Holocaust death rate. But thos nubmers are internal. In fact areas of the Balkans which Axis aligned Bulgaria occupied had the highest death rates of Jews in all of Europe -- higher than Germany itself. IE the govenrment of Bulgaria, and its armed forces and its Bulgarian gendarmes areas under its occupation were arguably the most enthusiastic Holocaust perpetrators.
Also other contextual elements are missing from simple percentages. For example ALL Greeks suffered a very high civilian death rate during the occupation. The Axis occupation was particularly brutal because the Greek state had resisted, in fact been the first European state to beat an Axis military in the field (Italy), and large scale resistance continued throughout the occupation, and therefore Christians and Jews in Greece suffered an especially vindictive occupation. That occupation included general reprisal killings as well as five years of starvation conditions for the population generally.
As far as tombstones and cemeteries, editor IWS again demonstrates his complete lack of knowledge of the region. All cemeteries in Greece are temporary by tradition. Citing examples of Jewish tombstones as paving stones ignores the fact that 100x as many Christian stones are also found this way. (talk) 22:24, 29 November 2011 (UTC)

Kehila Kedosha Yashan Synagogue[edit]

I added a description of the remaining Romaniote synagogue in Ioannina which I found here. The only problem is that since I am a completely ignorant gentile I may have misunderstood some of the elements of the descriptions, but being audaciously bold I added them anyway. I am reffering to the part that reads:

The interior of the synagogue is laid out in the Romaniote way. The Bema is on a raised dais on the western wall, a marble statue of Aaron is on the eastern wall and at the middle there is a wide interior aisle were the Torah scrolls necessary for Romaniote liturgy are kept

The issues that could possibly arize are:

  1. Is this really a distinct Romaniote way of organizing the interior of a synagogue, or is it standard for all synagogues?
  2. At the aformentioned link concerning the eastern wall it is mentioned that there lies an "imposing marble Aron". Since Aron is an article about a ...Pokémon I thought that it was really a typo in the original website so I wrote Aaron, the brother of Moses, who unlike ...Pikachu(!) is much more likely to be part of the decoration of the interior of a synagogue. But again Aron could be a jargon term about an item in Jewish religious practice that I am simply not aware of and is not mentioned in wikipedia.
  3. Again the original website wrote something like "a large interior aisle necessary for the elaborate carrying of the Torah Scrolls" which I made into the aisle were the scrolls are kept. It is highly possible that the ignorant gentile has got it all wrong.

So, what I'm saying is, if anyone has any way of clarifying the above, please do so!!!!! -- Michalis Famelis 23:48, 9 January 2006 (UTC)

"'Aron (Haqqodesh)": The "ark" or chest that served as a repository for the tablets inscribed with the Ten Principles and the Rod of Aharon.—Preceding unsigned comment added by Jmabel (talkcontribs)
Thank you Jmabel, Apparently this is the key: Ark (synagogue). -- Michalis Famelis 18:45, 10 January 2006 (UTC)

deleate window[edit]

I propose to delete the window titled, 'Part of a series of articles on Jews and Judaism'. The links it gives must be place in a 'Portal' article on Jews and Judaism, not smack across other articles. If everybody did this, there would be no room on the article pages for any other information. Politis 11:51, 22 June 2006 (UTC)

Please see Wikipedia:Article series, Wikipedia:List of article series, and Wikipedia:Navigational templates for how this type of thing is usually handled. Fut.Perf. 12:08, 22 June 2006 (UTC)

Section "Famous Jews in Greece"[edit]

The specific section, as-is, is not directly relevant, since the article is specifically about the Romaniotes (a population distinct from the Sephardim, who have constituted the majority of Jews in Greece for the past few centuries). A better place for it would thus be within the article History of the Jews in Greece. Instead, I suggest that the section be renamed "Notable Romaniotes" and the list of names be accordingly populated. Please comment here. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by Contributor175 (talkcontribs) 24 November 2006.

Agree completely. - Jmabel | Talk 22:30, 26 November 2006 (UTC)
Thank you for the feedback. From among the currently listed people, only Rae Dalven seems to qualify. Amalia Vaka (not currently listed) deserves to be included as well. Proceeding with the edit. Contributor175 17:52, 27 November 2006 (UTC)
Interestingly the singer Rosa Ashkenazi was Romainiote. The irony of her name, and her home (Istanbul) may make it even stranger to some, but there were in fact many Romaniotes in Izmir/Smyrna, Istanbul and other places with heavy Greek populations but which remained in Turkey after the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire. Indeed some of the more notable Romanites are named Ashkenazi including two notable researchers, Deborah S. Esquenazi, and filmmaker Ed Askinazi, whose great grandparents were founders of (talk) 22:59, 29 November 2011 (UTC)


Didn't ALL the people of the Byzantine empire call themselves Romaniotes from the 11-12th century' to differ from the Latin crusaders? David1776 15:58, 5 February 2007 (UTC)

No, a common contemporary appelation of the Byzantines, used by themselves was Romaioi or Romioi, ie Romans. See also the articles Byzantine Greeks and Names of the Greeks. --Michalis Famelis (talk) 18:49, 5 February 2007 (UTC)
On that topic, there is no evidence that the Romaniote called themselves such for long and certainly not before the influx of Sephardim. (talk) 22:28, 29 November 2011 (UTC)

Liturgical language[edit]

Does anyone know the liturgical language of the Romaniotes, because I think it should be in the infobox. Ashkenazi Hebrew is at Ashkenazim and Sephardi Hebrew is at Sephardim for example.--Domitius 19:21, 5 February 2007 (UTC)

"related groups" info removed from infobox[edit]

For dedicated editors of this page: The "Related Groups" info was removed from all {{Infobox Ethnic group}} infoboxes. Comments may be left on the Ethnic groups talk page. Ling.Nut 20:18, 19 May 2007 (UTC)

Regions with significant populations[edit]

It says 11,000 Romaniotes live in Greece. That can't be accurate; only 5,000 Jews live in Greece. Could someone find the real number?--RM (Be my friend) 04:57, 21 January 2013 (UTC)