A modern city in central Thessaly, next to Kalambaka and the sites of the Meteora, its small Jewish community (50) maintains a Synagogue and a cemetery.
The presence of Jews in Trikala is mentioned in sources of the Byzantine period. Their population was increased significantly after the settlement of Spanish Jews – « Sepharadim » – in 1492, which were later joined by immigrants from Hungary, Portugal and from Sicily. Nevertheless, the Romaniote character was maintained in the community.
Tensions between Jews and Christians occasionally broke out in physical violence and Trikala’s Jews – like those of Ioanina – suffered especially during the revolutionary activities of the fanatic and renegade bishop Dionysos Skylosophos in the late 18th century. During the 19th century local antagonism forced many Jews to emigrate. By 1898 there were only 800 Jews left here and this number fell to 500 by 1941.
At the times of the mass arrest of Thessalian Jews by the Nazis in 1943, Trikala’s Jews, like those of Volos and Larissa, had made arrangements beforehand with the partisans and were ready to flee to the mountains or go into hiding. Only a few of them were arrested and deported.
At the end of the war, the community was reestablished. Over the years, many Jews left for Athens, Israel or elsewhere, and today there are only about 50 Jews living there.
Before the war, there were 3 synagogues in Trikala: the Kal Yavanim (Romaniote), Kal Sefaradi (Sefardi) and Kal Sikiliani (Romaniote-Sicilian). The last two were destroyed during the war while the oldest, the Kal Yavanim was gutted by fire. After the war, the Kal Yavanim was reconstructed, but with several interior modifications to accommodate both the Romaniote and Sfardi tradition of synagogue layout in Greece.
Location: 24, Athanasiou St.
Tel: (+30) 24310 258 34 / 24310 706 22
It has some interesting tombstones with inscriptions depicting the craft or profession of the deceased. It is normally locked, so visitors should first contact the community.
Based on Jewish Sites and Synagogues of Greece –
Nicholas P. Stavroulakis and Timothy J. DeVinney – Talos press