Etz Chaim Synagogue (archives)
Photo: Joseph Jackson
Israel asks Greece for aid in repairing torched synagogue
After two cases of arson, Etz Chaim Synagogue in Crete city of Hania, senior Foreign Ministry official meets with Greek ambassador

Israel expressed its concern to Greece on Tuesday over the arson of the old synagogue in the Crete town of Hania, and asked for help preventing repeat attacks. In addition, Israel issued a request with the Greek government for aid in repairing the site.


The synagogue was set ablaze this week for the second time in less than two weeks. Unknown perpetrators broke into the house of worship via a first-floor door and started a fire. Firefighting forces in Greece said that the fire destroyed parts of the building's wooden ceiling. Archive items and computers in the building were also burned.


The estimated damage stands at about 30,000 euro.


Local police said that the current arson case, as well as the previous blaze set at Etz Chaim Synagogue, consumed some 2,500 books, many of them quite rare.


Because of the recurring nature of the incidents, Deputy Director of the Foreign Ministry's Europe Department Naor Gilon spoke with Greek Ambassador to Israel Kiryakos Loukakis, who ensured that his government would do all in its power to catch the perpetrators. The Foreign Ministry reported that the meeting took place in a friendly atmosphere.


The Greek ambassador said he is concerned by the said incidents. He also said that he would pass on Israel's request that the Greek government help repair the synagogue.


Etz Chaim Synagogue is housed in a small building in the old section of the city and serves as a museum documenting the history of the Jewish community on the island of Crete. Some 300 members of the Hania Jewish community were expelled by the Nazi regime in 1944 and were all killed when their ship was fired on by the Allied powers. The synagogue was renovated in 1990. The museum's library contained rare documents and books.


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