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The Synagogue

History and Architecture


The interior lay-out of the Synagogue shows the influence of its Romaniote past but also the origin of the building as a Catholic church built during the Venetian period.

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After the arrest of the community in 1944, Etz Hayyim Synagogue was desecrated and lay abandoned for about 50 years until its reconstruction began in 1995.

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The Mikveh


The mikveh at Etz Hayyim was used in common with the congregation of Beth Shalom Synagogue (now destroyed). Until 1996 its interior was choked with local trash and after being cleaned it remarkably came back to life. Fed by underground springs its waters are very cold. A mikveh is of special important in a Jewish community and takes precedence even over the synagogue itself.

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The Tombs of Etz Hayyim


In the Ronald Lauder Courtyard four graves of Rabbis are located. These were mentioned by Crete’s last Chief Rabbi Abraham Evlagon in his memoir. In 2009 an ossuary with remains of community members, who most likely died during the German occupation in World War II, was added.

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The Treasures


Since its re-dedication in 1999 Etz Hayyim has been the recipient of numerous important gifts in the form of liturgical artifacts and textiles.

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