Access to Etz Hayyim Synagogue is through a narrow alleyway midway along the central main street (Kondylaki Street) of the former Jewish Quarter. This alley leads to a small street (Parodos Kondylaki) dominated by the synagogue complex and its main gate giving access to the synagogue’s northern courtyard.
In the centre of the pediment of the sandstone entrance is a turquoise plaque bearing the modern seal of Etz Hayyim Synagogue framed by the word “Peace” in Greek and Hebrew. This plaque, designed by Nikos Stavroulakis, replaced an older dedication not found at the time of the restoration when the pediment was reassembled from pieces recovered within the filling material in one of the synagogue windows. There are also two original Hebrew inscriptions on the gate.
Abraham Evlagon, the last Chief Rabbi of Crete, mentioned the gate in his efforts to raise money for its reconstruction in 1900 following considerable damage caused by an earthquake. Those funds were eventually provided by Baron Albert Rothschild of Vienna and the gate was thus named the “Rothschild Gate.”
Photo 1: © The Jewish Museum of Greece
Photos 2, 3: © Anastasios Skikos
Photos 4, 5, 6: © Nikos Stavroulakis