Romaniote Memories: A Jewish Journey from Ioannina, Greece to Manhattan: Photographs by Vincent Giordano

Erev Shabbat

The Friday night service (Erev Shabbat) – which was also Erev Rosh Hashanah – was the real start of the holiday for many of the attendees.

The scene was one of greeting for many participants who had not seen each other for many months or years. The Rosh Hashanah service is not unlike a normal Erev Shabbat service; but it does include some special mentions and blessings for the holiday. Congregants greeted the Sabbath with the traditional recitation of psalms, and the Hazan led the evening service. 

Prior to the Holocaust, when there was a large Jewish population in Ioannina and the synagogue was a better condition, women were relegated to the mechitzah, the enclosed gallery against the north wall. Now, all participants sit in the main prayer hall, but women and men are still seated separately Men occupy the center benches facing the open space between bimah and ehal and women sit on benches behind them.

Following the service, the Jewish Community of Ioannina hosted a communal Sabbath dinner for all.

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