VOLOS (Volo) , principal port city of Thessaly, Greece. The community of Volos was founded in the 19th century by a considerable number of Jews who came from the Peloponnesus after the Greek Revolution and the destruction of all of its Jewish communities. The community numbered 35 families in 1850. A new Romaniot synagogue was built in 1865 with the assistance of the Barons Rothschild and Hirsch of Paris. The rabbi was Samuel Molcho. One of the first schools to be opened by the *Alliance Israélite Universelle was in Volos (1864), which was also attended by many Greek children. Due to financial problems, communal apathy, defective instruction, dwindling enrollment, and abhorrent sanitary conditions, the school closed permanently in 1878. In 1889 and 1893 the community suffered from blood libels. At the end of the Turko-Greek war in 1897, anti-Jewish riots broke out, and many Jews fled to *Salonika. In 1909 there were 150 Jewish families and in 1913 about 1,000 persons. In 1910, the Zionist organization Po'alei Zion was founded, and in 1933 the Maccabi scout movement was founded. In 1940 the Jewish population of the city was 882. In 1943 the Jews dispersed themselves in the surroundings, but 130 of them fell into the hands of the Nazis and were included in a transport to the death camps. Rabbi Moshon Pessah, in consultation with the local Greek-Orthodox Metropolit Ioachim, decided that he would not turn over communal lists to the German commander, and had the insight and courage to advise his community members to flee to the Pelion Mountains and elsewhere outside of Volos in the Thessaly region. Mainly the very poor, old, or those who returned to the city because of the rigors of mountain village life or to get supplies were caught and deported to Birkenau. Some of the Jews of Volos were in a special elas Jewish unit in the Pelion Mountains, and throughout Thessaly the Jews cooperated with the British in sabotage against German targets. In 1948 there were 565 Jews in the town; in 1958, 230; and in 1967, 210. In the earthquakes of 1955 and 1957, damage was done to the synagogue. It was decided to rebuild it on the same site, and money was raised from the Greek Board of Jewish Communities, the Salonikan Jewish community, the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, and private donors. In 1987, antisemitic graffiti were sprayed on the synagogue and Jewish stores in Volos.
Bulletin de L'Alliance Israélite Universelle, 12 (1887), 34–37; E.N. Adler, Von Ghetto zu Ghetto (1909), 102; N. Leven, Cinquante ans d'histoire. L'Alliance Israélite Universelle 1860 – 1910, 2 (1920), 61–65; M. Molho and J. Nehama, In Memoriam; Hommage aux victimes juives des Nazis en Grèce, 2 (1949), 58–60, 164. add. bibliography: B. Rivlin, "Volos," in: Pinkas ha-Kehillot Yavan (1999), 101–9.
[Simon Marcus /
Yitzchak Kerem (2nd ed.)]