From Academic Kids


Total population: 6,000 (est.)
Significant populations in:

Greece: nn
Israel: nn
USA: nn

Language Greek, Yevanic, and the local languages of the areas where they live.
Religion Judaism
Related ethnic groups


The Romaniotes are a Jewish population living in Greece. They are thought to have lived in the territory of today's Greece for more than 2000 years. Large communities were located in Thebes, Ioannina, Chalkis, Corfu, Arta, Corinth and on the islands of Lesbos, Chios, Samos, Rhodes, and Cyprus, among others.

The Romaniotes are Greek Jews, distinct from both Ashkenazim and Sephardim. Jews have lived in Greece possibly as early as the Babylonian exile, and certainly had established communities in major Greek cities by the time of Jesus. There are very few Greek Jews alive today, a large percentage having been murdered by the Nazis. They only number in the thousands, most living in Greece, some in Israel, and also in the United States. Greek Jews historically tended to follow the Jerusalem Talmud instead of the Babylonian Talmud, and developed their own Minhag and their own Greek-Hebrew language, called Yevanic.

When the waves of Sephardic Jews coming from Spain with the expulsion of 1492 settled in Ottoman Empire Greece, they were richer, prouder and more cultivated, separating themselves from Romaniotes. At the end, most of the Romaniote communitites were assimilated. Remnants of the Romaniotes have survived in Yannena (Epirus) and the USA (Kehila-Kedosha-Janina Synagogue in New York City, built in 1927, is a gathering spot for these Greek Jews). The Romaniotes had their distinct customs very different from those of the Sephardic Jews; unlike the Sephardic Jews, they did not speak Ladino, but used Greek.

During World War II, Romaniotes were protected by the Greek government until the Nazi occupation. Although the Germans deported a great number of Greek Jews, scores of them were hidden by their Greek neighbours. The creation of the state of Israel in 1948, combined with the Greek civil war, was the final episode in the history of the Romaniotes, the majority of whom migrated to Israel or the USA.

Today a small number of them (around 6000) live in Greece, mainly in Yannena (Ioannina), and U.S.A. (mainly New York).

Rae Dalven was a prominent Romaniotissa, particularly noted for her translation of Modern Greek poetry.

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