IOANNINA, Greece — When the Jews of Ioannina gathered in their whitewashed-stone synagogue over the weekend, it was to commemorate 70 years since the Nazis destroyed their community.
But the March 30 gathering also served to highlight a source of present-day sadness: the withering of the unique 2,300 year-old Romaniote Jewish tradition.
Ioannina, a postcard-pretty town in northwestern Greece with a medieval fortress perched by a bright blue lake and surrounded by snow-capped mountains, once was the center of Romaniote Jewish life.
Today, however, the community in Ioannina numbers fewer than 50 members, most of them elderly. The last time the community celebrated a Bar Mitzvah was in 2000.
The community’s leaders fear for its future.