Chania Cemetery at Etz Chayim Synagogue
The Chania Jewish community existed under Venetian rule (1204-1645) and gained prominence under Turkish rule (from 1645). The community flourished between the 15th and 16th centuries. The Jewish population in 1571 was 300. There were two synagogues in Chania, one built in 1522 and a second in 1880. An Alliance Israelite committee, established in Chania in 1874, opened a school in 1876. The Jewish population in 1876 was 840. The Greek revolt, which began in 1896, undermined the Jews’ financial stability. Many left for other cities. In 1897, 200 refugees from Izmir reached Chania and were cared for by the community. Towards the end of the century, the community and its institutions were reestablished. During WWI, 547 Jews from the region found refuge in Chania. From the early 20th century, the Jewish population decreased due to emigration, numbering only 314 in 1941. In May 1941, a few families escaped to hide in Athens. On 20th May 1944, 265 Jews were imprisoned for a week and then boarded a ship at Herakleion. The few who survived in hiding left Chania after the war, primarily for Israel and the USA.
The exact period of the cemetery’s establishment is unknown, but it can be assumed the cemetery at the synagogue in Chania was founded in the 15th century.