JewishEncyclopedia.com

The unedited full-text of the 1906 Jewish Encyclopedia
- Phrase search: "names of god"
- Exclude terms: "names of god" -zerah
- Volume/Page: v9 p419
- Diacritics optional: Ḥanukkah or hanukkah
- Search by Author: altruism author:Hirsch
search tips & recommendations

THESSALY:

Province of northern Greece, on the Ægean Sea. It numbered Jews among its inhabitants at a very early date, although those that now (1905) live there speak Spanish and claim to be descendants of refugees who emigrated from Spain. There are Jewish communities at Larissa, Trikala, and Volo. None of them has a rabbi; and Hebrew studies there are in a state of decay. At Larissa and Trikala religious instruction is given in Jewish public schools established under the provincial law relating to such schools; they are supported by the government. The community of Trikala, by reason of numbering (according to the census) "not more than 1,000 members," has no special school. The Jewish students finish their education in the government higher schools; and some even enter the University of Athens.

The congregations have synagogues similar to those of every community in Turkey: one story, with colored windows, and with columns in the middle which support the dukan and candlesticks. The most beautiful of these synagogues is that at Larissa, which is very large and is situated in the center of a court in which there are several "batte midrashim"; one of these serves as a library and yeshibah, where religious studies are daily pursued. The congregation of Larissa is proud of its past grandeur. Its members speak of the famous "Yeshibat Rabbanim," which was a seat of learning at which twenty to twenty-five chief rabbis studied the Talmud and wrote religious works. Of the latter some manuscripts still exist in the old library.

Larissa, which formerly possessed a great number of rich Jews, was called "The Tree of Gold." About fifty-five years ago a riot took place, the poor Jews rising up against the rich. It became so serious that many of the wealthy Israelites emigrated, which wrecked the city's prosperity. To-day its rich Jews may be counted on the fingers; and the numerous poor ones are cared for by a charitable institution. Among the philanthropic members of the congregation should be mentioned the Matalon brothers. The Greco-Turkish war of 1897 gave the finishing stroke to this already impoverished community: besides the misfortune which the Jews shared in common with the other inhabitants in having their homes destroyed and their property stolen, they were accused by slanderers of having taken part in the plundering.

The community of Trikala, which is younger than that of Larissa, is more prosperous, not having suffered from the ruinous consequences of the war. This community numbers among its members the richest Greek Jew, Elia Cohn, whose fortune is estimated at from five to ten million francs.

Volo possesses the youngest Jewish community in Thessaly. It was organized toward the close of the nineteenth century by Spaniards of the province, and by other Jews who came from Janina, Chalcis, and Salonica. Since its annexation to Greece the city has become the first port in Thessaly. Most of the Jews of Volo are in easy circumstances; there are hardly any poor among them. The community is the most progressive in Greece. The Jewish youth speak Greek even in their social intercourse; and they have organized a club, called "The Future," in connectionwith which instructive lectures are delivered; and work is undertaken having for its aim the building up of the community. This club is presided over by Solomon Daffas, formerly director of a school of the Alliance Israélite Universelle. The Jews of Volo have organized also a Philharmonic Society.

S. M. C.
Images of pages