Page 78


Going on a holiday in this Island does not sound much of a historic destination let alone, of a Jewish connection. It is the largest of the Dodecanese Islands. Its history goes back to four thousand years when, according to their mythology, a fortune teller told the King of Crete that he will be murdered by his son. The son, who loved his father very much, was horrified, fled with his family and friends northwards, and settled in Rhodes. He surrounded his area by magic silver bulls that bellowed whenever the island was in danger of attack.

His father, growing old and hearing that his son was living in Rhodes came to look for him. It was dark when the bulls started bellowing and the prince mistook his dad for a pirate and lopped off his head. So sadly, the prophesy came true.

The Colossus of Rhodes was a splendid bronze state of Helios, their Sun G-d. It stood 100 feet high at the entrance of the harbour, one foot on each side. Its building took twelve years circa 280 BCE. It was recognised as one of the Seven Wonders of the World, and was destroyed by an earthquake in 227 BCE. Alas, it cannot be retrieved from the bottom of the sea as thieves had stolen its pieces and sold them as scrap.

Being a small island in an important trading seaway, it was occupied by all the powers that dominated the area. Including Alexander the Great, The Byzantines, Haroun al Rashid, the Crusaders, and the Italians of Genoa who sold it to the Knights of St John in 1306 after the defeat of the Crusaders. In 1522 it became part of The Ottoman Empire. The Italians took it back in 1912 until World War Two. We saw the house built for Mussolini at the top of a mountain, where he spent several holidays. In 1943 the Germans rounded up all the Jews, about 2000, and sent them to Auschwitz. There are now 40 Jews in the city and one synagogue that we saw, being looked after by an old Jewish lady who speaks Ladino.

One of the highest mountains in the Island is called Prophet Elias. I don't know of any other prophet with that name but ours.

Rhodes is infested by poisonous snakes. In old times the farmers brought deers into the island to kill the snakes. It seems that the deer, being afraid of the snake, kicks it until it kills it! Therefore deers are sacred and no-one is allowed to kill them.

The largest tourist group who occupy the best hotels are, believe it or not, Israelis! Many signs in the shops and hotels are in Hebrew.


Elias Dangoor


If you would like to make any comments or contribute to the scribe please contact us.