Kahal Shalom Synagogue is the oldest surviving synagogue in Greece and the only remaining Sephardic temple in Rhodes. Known as the New Synagogue, it is now part of a large complex consisting of two yards, the ruins of a small house, a courtyard with a plaque inscribed with the synagogue’s founding date of 1577, and a fountain. The courtyard held a library until World War II. On either side of the temple’s central door is an Ehal, a marble niche where the Torah is kept.
The roof of the main hall was rebuilt
Years of water infiltration had damaged both interior and exterior surfaces. To ensure long-term survival of Kahal Shalom Synagogue (Holy Congregation of Peace) it was included on the 2000 World Monuments Watch. Funding from American Express was used to support the waterproofing of the roof, and the roof of the main hall was rebuilt, with a traditional wooden structure replacing the reinforced concrete slab that had been added in the twentieth century. Restorations were also completed on long-damaged areas, especially where dampness had affected the walls’ porous stones, exterior pointing, and interior plaster. Despite the aesthetic damage, the structure was found to be structurally stable. Floors were restored where settling of the foundation soil caused cracks and where improper repairs were evident. Original slopes for the drainage system were reconstructed and incorporated to the original gutters to lead water to the city sewage system. Paintings were restored and remained in the synagogue when possible. When necessary, objects were moved to the on-site museum. The conservation of Kahal Shalom Synagogue ensures that local residents and visitors will enjoy this important building long into the future and have the opportunity to learn about the history of the Sephardic community that played a significant part in the development of Rhodes.