Etz-Hayyim Synagogue in Chania attacked twice by arsonists

Martin Belam  by Martin Belam, 20 January 2010

Some very depressing news from Chania in Crete where I used to live. The Etz-Hayyim Synagogue has been attacked and damaged by arsonists not just once, but twice, in the space of a fortnight. I found out via the This Is Not My Country blog, where Devious Diva has tirelessly blogged about the rights and the abuses of minority groups in Greece. The synagogue also has a blog, and they have posted some pictures of the damage.

What is upsetting is that the synagogue is not just a place of worship for the tiny Jewish population on the island, it stands as a monument to the fate of Crete's Jewish community during the brutal and bloody Nazi occupation of the island during the Second World War. To see it attacked is shameful.

The synagogue featured in The Guardian last year, and in 2006 Radio 3 broadcast a documentary - "The last Jew on Crete" - about Nikos Stavroulakis who has worked tirelessly to restore and operate the synagogue. It was a very moving programme, and he deserves better than the attacks of the last couple of weeks.

The world's fundraising efforts are chiefly engaged in addressing a massive humanitarian disaster on the other other side of the world at the moment, but if you'd like to support the rebuilding efforts of the Etz-Hayyim Synagogue, you can do so via their website.

Keep up to date on my new blog