KARDITSA Print
Friday, 12 June 2009 10:54

THE JEWISH COMMUNITY OF KARDITSA

    In the end of the 18th and in the beginning of the 19th century rivalry between Jews and Gentiles resulted to anti-Semitic riots; therefore some Jewish families settled in the neighbouring city of Karditsa. The first family to settle there in 1898 was that of Yehuda Kapetas and others followed shortly after. In 1940 a Community comprised of 82 people was formed. The Jews of Karditsa were mainly involved in trade; others were lamp-makers and spinners. Some women were embroideresses and dress-makers.

    The city had no synagogue, no cemetery and no rabbi. A highly educated man, Iosif Iosif, performed the necessary religious duties such as memorial services. On High Holy Days the Jews of Karditsa attended services in the Synagogue of Trikala, and on Passover the families gathered in relatives' homes in order to keep the traditional customs.

    Six young men were recruited in the War of 1940, one of whom, Mimis Kapetas, was wounded in the battles against the Italians.

    During the Occupation several Jews participated in the National Resistance. After Italy's defeat, in September 1943, the Germans occupied the city. One of their first actions was to ask the Mayor to hand them over the list of Jews and their addresses. The National Resistance had provided the Jews with fake ID's bearing Christian names. When the persecution began most of them succeeded to escape to Mountain Agrapha and mainly to "Mastroyianni" village where they found a safe refuge and hospitality. Therefore, the Jews of Karditsa were saved and returned to the city after the War. The community faced many financial problems and the children were in poor health due to deprivation and hardships. A new Committee was formed. Professor David Bonfil was chairman, Leon Ganis and Leon Kapetas were members. This Committee worked with the Central Board of Jewish Communities in Greece of Greece to obtain immediate financial aid.

    After a Royal Decree of July 6, 1949, the Community was officially recognized as a Public Entity and Zakinos Kapetas became chairman. As the years went by, the number of members was decreasing due to emigration to Israel or to other bigger cities.

    In 1970 the Community - due to the small number of members - was declared inactive and ceased to exist. Today, the only remaining Jewish family in Karditsa is that of Chaim Kapetas.