Ioannina New Jewish Cemetery

Cemetery Information

Country
Greece
Region
Epirus
District
Ioannina
Settlement
Ioannina
Site address
13-1, Klisouras Street
GPS coordinates
39.66800, 20.84309
Perimeter length
618 metres
Is the cemetery demolished
no
Type and height of existing fence
The cemetery is surrounded with a masonry fence of two metres height.
Preservation condition
Fenced and protected Jewish cemetery
General site condition
The cemetery is operating, fenced and in relatively good condition. The old part is overgrown, and not all tombstones are visible. The local community uses and takes care of the cemetery.
Number of existing gravestones
Around 1000. A number of gravestones have been moved from the old demolished cemetery.
Date of oldest tombstone
1860 (oldest tombstone found by ESJF expedition). A number of tombstones have been brought from the old Jewish cemetery of Ioannina, including one from 1426.
Date of newest tombstone
2017
Urgency of erecting a fence
Fence is not needed
Land ownership
Property of local community
Preserved construction on site
The cemetery site includes a beit-tahara and a house for prayers.
Drone surveys
Yes

Historical overview

Jews first settled in Ioannina some time in the first centuries C.E. A sizable Romaniot community (dating from the Byzantine period) existed in the 14th century. Since the Sephardi Jews who arrived following the Spanish and Portuguese expulsions assimilated, the Jewish community remained the largest and oldest Romaniot community in Greece. In 1540, the Sephardi Jews formed their own congregation. In 1824, the Romaniot congregation built a new and magnificent synagogue, which remains intact today, and in 1841 the Sephardi Jews followed suit with an equally grand building. A Sicilian congregation maintained its own synagogue and traditions. The Jewish population in 1856 was 2,400. Two great fires broke out in 1867, leaving about 840 Jews homeless; some emigrated to Egypt, Eretz Israel, and the USA. From 1865, an Alliance Israelite committee focused on Jewish education and in 1904 (when the Jewish population peaked at 4,000) opened a Jewish school. Two Zionist associations were established in 1905 and 1909. After WWI, another wave of emigration took place, mostly to the USA, Turkey, France, and Eretz Israel. In 1928, the Ionnina Jewish community was the third largest Jewish community in Greece (1,970 Greek-speaking Jews), after Salonika and Kavala. In the 1930s, emigration continued. By this time a number of social welfare organizations had been founded, including an old age home. The greatest Jewish poet writing in Greek, Yosef Eliyia, lived in Ioannina during this period. The Jewish population in 1941 was 1,950. In WWII, many Jews in Ioannina fought against the Italians on the Albanian border. On 24th March 1944, the Germans rounded up all the Jews – some 1,870 – and deported them to Auschwitz-Birkenau via Trikala and Larissa. Only 164 survived the death camps. The community was revived after the war but remained small.

The exact period of the cemetery’s establishment is unknown, but it can be assumed that the cemetery of the Romaniot and Sephardi Jews emerged in the 19th century.

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