As well as being an active place of worship, Etz Hayyim also serves as a research and resource centre. At Etz Hayyim, we conduct ongoing research into the history of Cretan Jewish communities at our library, the Evlagon Institute for Cretan Jewish Studies, named after the last chief Rabbi of Crete, Avraham Evlagon (1846-1933). The Institute coordinates research projects, publishes research results and develops materials for the synagogue’s educational outreach program and exhibitions. One such initiative, the Hania Jewish community research project called Reconstructing an Absence, Narrating A Presence: The Jews of Hania, Crete, in collaboration with two Greek historians, concerns the social history of the Jewish community of Hania in the 19th and 20th centuries.
Our archival holdings on Cretan Jewish history are being systematically expanded. We have an extensive reference collection on a wide range of subjects about Judaism, Cretan Jewish history, the Jews of Greece and the Mediterranean, the history of European Jewry and the Holocaust, among other subjects. In cooperation with the University of Crete’s (Rethymnon) library, Etz Hayyim’s library collection is currently being included in the University of Crete’s online library catalogue.