The area between today’s Portou and Kondylaki streets used to be the Jewish Quarter of Hania. Many local residents still refer to it today as Ovraikí, which suggests an almost forgotten awareness of a Jewish presence here.
Kondylaki Street near to where the Etz Hayyim Synagogue is situated was, in the past, called the “Large Jewish Area” (Megálo Ovraikí) while the area around Portou Street was known as the “Minor Jewish Area” (Mikró Ovraikí). Today, only little remains of the former Jewish habitation of this locality.
There are a few buildings that can be attributed to their former use within the community, for instance, immediately south of Etz Hayyim Synagogue on Parodos Kondylaki Street is the building of the former Talmud Torah School. The latter functioned as the community school in the neighbourhood until the end of the 19th century. Kondylaki Street No. 39 was the residence of Rabbi Elias Osmos who perished alongside his family and the rest of the community on 9 June 1944. The former community kindergarten stood on the corner of Kondylaki and Portou streets. However, this building was destroyed during the German bombing of Hania in May 1941, together with the Beth Shalom Synagogue immediately north to it on Kondylaki Street (today a restaurant).
There are no longer any remnants left of the former Jewish cemetery west of the Old Town in the modern Nea Chora district.Current research aims to develop a detailed map showing clearly the homes of Jewish families in the Ovraikí neighbourhood based on lists of community members in the early 1940s.
Photo 1: © Central Board of Jewish Communities in Greece: Etz Hayyim Synagogue Commemorative Album, 2nd ed., Athens 2008.
Photos 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10: © Anastasios Skikos