Kehila Kedosha Janina
is a Romaniote synagogue
situated in Chinatown
, in the Lower East Side
, New York City
Kedosha Janina holds the distinction of being the only Romaniote synagogue in the Western Hemisphere
. The congregation was founded in 1906 by Greek Jewish immigrants from Ioannina
, but the synagogue itself was not erected until 1927. The years from its founding in 1927 until the Second World War were a time of prosperity for the Romaniote community in the Lower East Side: there were three rabbis in the synagogue, and on the High Holidays
, there was often only standing room for synagogue services. After the Second World War, many congregants moved to other boroughs and parts of Manhattan, including Harlem
, the Bronx
, and Brooklyn
, though these communities are no longer active.
Although the community has steadily dwindled since its pre-war heyday, services are still held on shabbat and Jewish holidays. While it maintains a mailing list of 3,000 persons, it often has difficulty meeting the moyle or quorum for shabbat worship. Guided tours are offered each Sunday to visitors.
The Janina landsmanschaft has a burial plot at Wellwood Cemetery where there is a memorial to the Jews of Ioannina killed in the Shoah.
There is a documentary film about the synagogue and community, "the Last Greeks on Broome Street." It is directed, written and narrated by Ed Askinazi, whose great-grandparents were among the congregation’s founders.
Kehila Kedosha Janina is somewhat unusual for a Romaniote synagogue in that it runs north south with the ehal
on the north side (Romaniote synagogues typically run east to west), the bimah
is in the center of the main sanctuary (most Romaniote synagogues place the bimah on the west wall), and the internal stairway for the women's balcony. It is typical in the fact that men and woman sit separately (a feature of all Orthodox
The building was designated a landmark by New York City in 2004 and it underwent major restoration in 2006.