The Kahal Shalom Synagogue
It’s on the corner of Dosiadou and Simmiou street. It’s the oldest synagogue in Greece and the only one out of the six that still officiates during the Jewish New Year and the Atonement Day when a rabbi is invited by the jewish community and for other religious ceremonies.
The Kahal Shalom Synagogue is the oldest surviving synagogue in Greece and the only remaining Sephardic temple in Rhodes. The conservation of Kahal Shalom Synagogue ensures that local residents and visitors will enjoy this important building long into the future and have the opportunity to learn about the history of the Sephardic community that played a significant part in the development of Rhodes. The Kahal Shalom Synagogue is the only remaining synagogue used for services on the Island of Rhodes and is the oldest in all of Greece.
The Synagogue was built in the traditional Sephardic style indicative of the Jews’ ancestors. The Jews in Rhodes are primarily descendents of Jews who fled Spain during the Spanish inquisition. There is a reading table in the center and a women’s balcony that overlooks the lower room of the sanctuary where the men pray. The balcony was built in the 1930’s to replace the backrooms with small latticed barriers that women used to be allotted. The floor of the building has black and white mosaic stones. On the east side of the synagogue is a courtyard containing a plaque with an inscription of the founding date of the synagogue: Kislev, 5338 (1577). On the west side of the synagogue is a courtyard that until World War II held a library. The eastern wall has a unique feature in that at either side of the central door there is an Ehal, a marble niche where the sacred books of the Torah are kept.
The language that the Jews in Rhodes used during the Ottoman Empire was mainly their own Judeo-Spanish language. It was a combination of Castilian dialect and Hebrew as well as Turkish and Greek words and phrases. The language was kept alive through oral communication and written moral treatises, biblical analyses, and poems.