Dominating the east wall of the courtyard in which the rabbis are buried is a large white-washed ossuary containing the bones of fifteen Jews who had passed away during the German Occupation.
In the late summer of 2009, Nikos Stavroulakis, the director of Etz Hayyim, was called upon by the Archaeological Authority in Hania to identify several skeletal remains that had been found in the vicinity of the now-destroyed Jewish cemetery. It was not difficult for him to ascertain that they were Jewish burials. The very absence of any names on the large flat stones covering the burials suggested that they had been carried out between 1941 and 1944 when, during the Nazi occupation of Hania, it would have been impossible to have proper stones cut in Hebrew.
In the end, it was felt that these skeletal remains stay in Hania and a solution was found in recourse to the ancient Jewish practice of family sarcophagi that lasted well into Hellenistic times. On the ossuary, a copy of a gilt-glass Hellenistic Jewish seal – with a depiction of the Temple and a menorah based on an original found in the Jewish catacombs of Rome – was placed along with a plaque with verses taken from Ezekiel in Hebrew, Greek and English which reads: “I will put my breath to enter into you and you shall live again. I will lay sinews upon you and cover you with flesh and form skin over you. And I will put breath into you and you shall live again, and you shall know that I am the Lord.”
Photo 1, 2, 3, 4: © Anastasios Skikos
Photos 5, 6, 7: © Etz Hayyim Synagogue