Jews settled in Rhodes for the first time in the 2nd c. BCE, and have since had a continuous presence on the island, throughout its long and turbulent history. Synagogues and Rabbinical Colleges flourished on the island, and the Jews of Rhodes excelled in the trade of textiles and silk. In the 16th c., large numbers of Sephardic Jews settled in Rhodes, enriching the community’s culture, which until then was purely Romaniote.
Before WW II, the Rhodes community had about 2,000 members. After Italy’s capitulation the Germans took over the island and in 1944, all the Jews who had not managed to escape were arrested and sent to the Death Camps. Only 151 of those survived, but most of them did not return to the island. Today, Rhodes is the smallest organised community in Greece and it is legally inactive.