A Visit to Rhodes

Posted on October 7th, 2013 by

While recently on vacation in Turkey and Greece I had the opportunity to visit the Synagogue and Jewish Museum of Rhodes, Greece.



The Kahal Shalom is the oldest Jewish synagogue in Greece, and the sole remaining synagogue on the Island of Rhodes used for services. It is located in the Jewish Quarter (called “La Juderia”) and is believed to have been built in the year 1577. The full name of the building is “Kahal Kadosh Shalom” (Holy Congregation of Peace).  Our docent, Schmuel Modiano, was a survivor of Birkenau.  He spoke to a group of visitors, similar to the way the JMM arranges for Holocaust survivors speak to visiting groups.

Docent with visitors

Docent with visitors

The Jewish community of Rhodes has an historical background dating back to ancient times. During the past five hundred years, the background of the Jews of Rhodes was influenced principally by the Jews who fled Spain at the time of the Spanish Inquisition. Large numbers of Sephardim traveled across the Mediterranean Sea to the Island of Rhodes, as well as other cities such as Salonica, Istanbul and Izmir. During its height in the 1930’s, the Jewish community had a population of approximately 4,000 people.

The interior of the Kahal Shalom synagogue follows the traditional Sephardic style of having the bima in the center of the sanctuary facing southeast toward Jerusalem. The floor is decorated with graceful black and white mosaic stone patterns, which is a distinctive design motif used throughout the Old City of Rhodes.  One decorative pattern includes the year 5601 or 1840-41.  An intriguing feature of the Kahal Shalom sanctuary is that it is decorated with numerous religious wall paintings.

During the 1930’s, a balcony was built in the Kahal Shalom sanctuary for seating of the women. Prior to that time the women sat in rooms adjoining the south wall of the synagogue. The women’s prayer rooms  viewed the sanctuary through windowed openings adorned by latticework.

Docent with Group

Docent with Group

In the courtyard on the east side of the synagogue, there is a plaque above where a water fountain once existed, and it bears an inscription dated the month of Kislev, 5338 (1577). Apparently, this fountain was constructed at the same time as the synagogue. On the west side of the synagogue there was a religious school, however it was destroyed during World War II.

Today there are about 40 Jews living in Rhodes, who practice their religion in the Synagogue.  However, it is worth mentioning that the Synagogue is also open to the public that visit it because of its great historic and architectural interest. In 2002 the Municipality approved the erection of a Monument of the Victims of the Holocaust in the Jewish Martyrs square, in the place where the Jewish quarter used to be. The Jewish cemetery of the island is still preserved.

Holocaust Memorial

Holocaust Memorial

ilene cohenA blog post by Volunteer Coordinator Ilene Cohen. To see more posts from Ilene click here.

Posted in jewish museum of maryland

A Visit to the MET

Posted on April 23rd, 2012 by

A Blog Post by Senior Collections Manager Jobi Zink

While I was home for Passover, we went to New York City to visit the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

My AAM card got me in for free (saving $20 suggested admission fee). My dad used in old teacher’s pass and he, Jordana and Eric also got in for free.

We specifically went to see The Steins Collect: Matisse, Picasso, and the Paris Avant-Garde. This temporary exhibition occupies nine galleries on the third floor and is absolutely amazing! Gertrude Stein and her brothers Leo and Michael, and sister-in-law Sarah lived in Paris during the early 20th century. Although they did not have a lot of money, they were interested in purchasing art. They amassed a tremendous collection of works by young, talented, and virtually unknown artists including Pablo Picasso and Henri Matisse.

The Steins hung the works salon-style in their 460 square foot studio in Paris at 27 Rue de Fleurus, represented in a full size at the beginning of the exhibition.  In order to accommodate new acquisitions, they frequently moved and rearranged their artwork. Fortunately, the Steins also took photographs of their various installations. The curatorial team relied on over 400 photographs to curate the exhibition. Eric particularly enjoyed the juxtaposition of the exact paintings that were documented in the large photomurals in each of the galleries.

The Steins opened their apartments on Saturday afternoons, allowing visitors to see their collection, shaping art appreciation for future generations. When the Steins found themselves low on funds to buy more art, they would sell pieces of their collection. Clara and Etta Cone of Baltimore were frequent buyers, and thus it was not surprising that several pieces on display were on loan from the Baltimore Museum of Art.   http:///www.artbma.org/collection/overview/cone.html 

Picasso’s famous portrait of Stein reminded me of a line from The Paris Wife by Paula McLain where Gertrude Stein plays prominently in shaping Ernest Hemingway’s writing career. In the book Hadley and Ernest wonder, “How much do you think Gertrude’s breast weigh?”  My father used the audio tour and found that it provided more information than the text panel about the rift between Gertrude and Leo.

Photography is not allowed in the exhibition, but the link below will provide you with highlights from the exhibition.


After the signing exhibit me I’ll when I separate ways and explore different parts of the museum. My dad was enthralled with the painting of Napoleon at battle.  http:///www.metmuseum.org/Collections/search-the-collections/110001498 

Eric spent two more hours in the hall of armor.

Eric poses with Henry VIII armor

My sister and toured the American Period Rooms –installations of original furnishings and structures from of the most impressive homes in the country. My sister was particularly taken by and tables and other large furniture created by the Harter brothers, well I enjoyed paintings by Thomas Dewing, Tiffany lamps and Frank Lloyd Wright’s Prairie style home.

This is the side of the Vanderbilt library table with mother-of-pearl inlay by the Harter brothers.

We all enjoyed the temple of Dendur installation – an actual in Egyptian temple that was saved in 1965 before the Nile River was intentionally flooded.


As you can see, even if you don’t have a free pass, the museum is well worth it!


Posted in jewish museum of maryland

Once Upon a Time…07.09.2010

Posted on October 5th, 2010 by

Once Upon a Time 7.9.10

The Baltimore Jewish Times publishes unidentified photographs from the collection of Jewish Museum of Maryland each week. If you can identify anyone in these photos and more information about them, contact Jobi Zink, Senior Collections Manager and Registrar at 410.732.6400 x226 or jzink@jewishmuseummd.org.

Date run in Baltimore Jewish Times: 7/9/10
PastPerfect Accession #: 2008.043.016A

Status: Unidentified. Unidentified group of Zulver family members posing in a car

Posted in jewish museum of maryland