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  The J.M.G. Collections

The Museum’s collections include more than eight thousand original artifacts, testifying to more than 23 centuries of Jewish presence in Greece.

Besides a few objects which Asher Moissis, president of the Jewish Community of Athens, had collected after the war, the core of the initial collection was made up of items that had been returned to Greece by the Bulgarian government, after the establishment of a communist regime in that country. These included personal effects, jewellery, domestic items, synagogual objects and documents, which belonged to the Jews of Eastern Macedonia and Thrace and were confiscated after 1941, when the area fell in the Bulgarian zone of occupation. The confiscated items had been meticulously recorded and became the first significant body of artifacts of the collection.

This core material kept multiplying, mainly through the donations of individuals and communities, initially from the area of Thessaly, the island of Rhodes and the city of Ioannina. Besides rare 17th - 19th century books and publications, a significant number of ritual textiles was assembled, during the years 1977-1982. Most of them date from the Ottoman times (14th-19th centuries), and soon became one of the Museum’s main attractions, for both visitors and researchers. In 1984 the Jewish Community of Patras was dissolved for lack of members and the interior of its synagogue, along with its textiles and ritual objects was bequeathed to the Museum. These religious artifacts are extremely significant, invaluable and irreplaceable, since they come, for the most part, from synagogues and communities, which no longer exist.

After these early acquisitions, began the organisation of the artifacts into categories: ritual objects, domestic and personal items, and Holocaust artifacts, documents, and information material. More donations from individuals and communities from both Greece and abroad continued to pour in, further enriching the collection. The Museum’s relocation to its new premises (1998) brought a renewal of public interest and more donations followed.

In general, the Museum has been receiving an average of 250-300 new artifacts every year, since the year 2000. Its unique collections, which are continuously being expanded, document more than four centuries of Jewish life in Greece, considering that the oldest textiles and antenuptial contracts date from the 16th century C.E.

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