Greece: Passover at Etz Hayyim and Fund Raising Update
(ISJM) It has now been several months since arsonists attacked the historic Etz Hayyim Synagogue in Hania, Crete. The congregation, with some help from neighbors, has cleaned up the mess and made the synagogue look whole again. some new security measures have been installed, and an international effort in in progress to collect books to rebuild the library that was destroyed by fire, smoke and water. Visitors are again coming to the synagogue, and Nikos Stavorulakis and his associates are preparing for the usual summer surge in visitation. But the bills for the clean-up and repairs still have to be paid, and money still needs to be raised. So far ISJM has collected about $27,000 from approximately 150 individual donors. Others have sent money directly to Greece. If you would like to contribute more funds checks should be made out to ISJM and sent to:
International Survey of Jewish Monuments
118 Julian Place, Box 210
Syracuse, NY 13210
(be sure to write "Etz Hayyim" on the memo line)
Nikos reports on progress at the Etz Hayyim Synagogue on the Etz Hayyim blog. As it does every year, the heterogeneous community gathered in April at the synagogue for a Passover Seder. Nikos describes this year's gathering and ritual meal:
Passover at Etz Hayyim is somewhat like a family gathering as over the past ten years the community During the times when it was felt necessary to expand on the Haggadah special mention and note was made of the fact that Passover is about fleeing from idolatry in all its forms – even perhaps the idols that one makes of concepts and practices that perhaps impede our spiritual growth and freedom.
Seder attracts a good number of people who return annually to celebrate with us here.
This year we were prepared to see perhaps fewer participants due both to the ‘crunch’ as well as the arson attacks. Invitations were sent out as usual and response here in Hania seemed to indicate that we would have a fair attendance though it seemed unlikely that we would have the usual quota of visiting Israelis and Jews from Europe on vacation. We lay in provisions from Athens – matzoth and wine and chose a traditional Sephardi menu of non meat dishes – and even had the ‘korban’ pre-roasted in Athens and sent by courier.
Nicholas de Lange arrived in good time and after getting copies of our last year’s haggadah printed up we set about making arrangements with a nearby restaurant that we have used on former occasions.
Everyone assembled at the Synagogue for Arvith prayers and then made their way to the restaurant and we, Nicholas de Lange and myself, took on the part of readers. During the times when it was felt necessary to expand on the Haggadah special mention and note was made of the fact that Passover is about fleeing from idolatry in all its forms – even perhaps the idols that one makes of concepts and practices that perhaps impede our spiritual growth and freedom.
Almost 60 people attended the reading of the Haggadah and after the hiding of the Afikomin set about serving themselves from a buffet of traditional Sephardi food.
At the end of the meal the cup of Eliahu was filled with wine that was taken from everyone’s glasses and the door was opened to the street as we said the thanksgiving prayers.
We are especially happy that some friends arrived from Turkey as well as the young Palestinian who helped me the night of the first fire and the friars from the nearby Catholic monastery…thus the sense of members of one widely extended family – Jews, Christians and Muslims was very evident.