Updated: Mar 12, 2019
Isaiah 66:19 and Joel 3:6
I decided to find the Jewish interests in the city. I was having my breakfast. Greek Yoghurt with honey and fruit. I began studing 1 Thessalonians chapters 1-3. I looked up the Jewish historical museum.
I began my visit there.
I took note of several things.
The Hebrews arrived in Thessaloniki in 140 BC from Alexandria, Egypt. They ended up calling themselves the Romaniotes.
The museum noted Paul's visit roughly in 50 AD. They say he visited Ets Ahayim (Tree of Life) which was the oldest synagogue in Thessaloniki. The location was between Demosthenous and Kalapothaki streets. The Synangogue is no longer there.
The Hebrew population grew increasingly until the great fire in 1917 which destroyed everything in a large section of Thessaloniki. 70,000 were homeless of that number 50,000 were Hebrews.
Thessaloniki was considered the largest city in the Byzantine Empire besides Constantiople.
Thessaloniki became a major center for Theological studies for the Hebrews. The title was given to the city as the Mother of Israel in 1537 by the Jewish poet Ferrara, Sameul Usque.
In 1873 - The great theological seminary of the "Talmud Torah" was located in Thessaloniki.
The rich history of the Hebrew people in this city is undeniable. Definitely a place we could focus on praying
There is a memorial near the water to the loss of lives during WWII. The museum speaks of this time period. The Museum is not big, but definitely informative.
My ticket to the Muesum was on 5 euros and included a visit to the Synagogue. I needed to find the Synagogue. Fortunately, there was a tourist information booth near the water. I asked for directions.
20 minutes later I asked another lady after getting close. She pointed me in the right direction.
The lady at the Synagogue was very helpful. She told me that if it wasn't for the Red Cross taking over the building during WWII, the building would have been destroyed. The Synagogue was included in the Thessaloniki Ghetto. There were many Synagogues and they were all destroyed except this one and it is the only Synagogue in the city.
Thessaloniki is about 1 million people strong and there are only 1,000 Hebrews left.
There was a large influx of Sephardic Hebrews that came in 1492 when Ferdinand the King of Spain threw all the Hebrews out of Spain. Many came to Thessaloniki.
Many of the Hebrews that did not die in the Holocaust ended up going to Israel and helped build the ports of Haifa and Tel Aviv.
While at the Synagogue I felt this overwhelming presence to just sit and reflect. While reflecting the lady came in and shared with me how Netanyahu and his family visited the Synagogue last week with his family while he was here for a summit with Cyprus and Greek officials. I thought that was very interesting.
This synagogue is simply tucked away on a street and you would hardly know it is there. This is very different in Israel where all the Synagogues are very easy to see and recoginize.
After visiting the synagogue I went for lunch and tried to wrap my mind around all of the rich history of our faith that is here in Thessaloniki. Then looking around I notice many people of all ages here in Thessaloniki.
I decided after lunch I would walk to the "White Tower". The White Tower, which came to be the symbol of Thessaloniki by coincidence was built in the late 15th century on the site of an older Byzantine tower, where the eastern wall and the sea wall met.
The White tower is 33.9 meters high and comprises 6 stories probably built around 1535/1536. The tower has had many names "Lion's Tower" in the 16th century, The Fortress of Kalmaria in the 18th century, the "Janissary Tower" and the "Blood Tower" in the 19th century since it served as a prision and a place of execution for long-term convicts.
In 1890 the current name came to be when the Tower was whitewashed by a convict in exchange for his freedom.
That brings us to the conclusion for today.
Love and blessings,