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✈ Keeping Kosher in Greek Isles, Greece

Contributed by: Tina Pollack | Last Date of Travel: July 2007

Kosher Info: The Greek Islands do not have any established Jewish
communities, thus finding accessible kosher food could be difficult.
See http://www.chabad.gr/templates/articlecco_cdo/aid/66080/jewish/Kosher-products-list.htm
for a list of kosher products available throughout Greece. The Islands
have a lot of fresh fruit and vegetables and also different types of
freshly caught kosher fish. The restaurants in Greece, including the
Islands, will rinse and double wrap your fish in foil before placing
it on the grill (they only use olive oil and some spices for grilling
the fish). You can ask them not to open the foil packages until brought to the table. You should inquire about the bread and salad at the restaurants.

Tourist Info: The Greek Islands are spectacular. They are easy to get
to from the port in Athens or you can island hop, depending on your
travel course. The Islands are also generally cheaper than Athens and
getting there is not too pricey by the ferries. http://www.greeka.com is one website with info how to access the islands and info about island.

We visited Poros, Santorini, and Naxos. Each island had its own flavor and atmosphere,
but all were beautiful, fun and relaxing. There are some sites, like
ancient ruins, to see on the Islands, but the best part is soaking in
the Mediterranean sun and enjoying the clear blue water and really
appreciating the culture of the islands. Everything is very relaxed
there and the locals are generally friendly and laid-back.

The Island of Santorini has the most to do and is also the most beautiful (think
white washed homes with domed blue roofs). We stayed in Perissa
Village (our hostel, Youth Hostel Anna, provided transportation from
the port There is a day-long boat trip that we took that takes you to
different points around the island, including a swim in a sulfur pool,
a hike along an extinct volcano, a donkey ride up the steep cliffs of
the island, and to the town of Oia, the site of the famous and
stunning sunsets overlooking the caldera and sea.

There are also lots of different beaches which are all different from each other. We
rented a car for one day to navigate around the island since it is
large and the public transportation is not extensive or reliable. We
visited the Red Beach, Black Beach and White Beach, the lighthouse,
and took a trip to one of the many famous wineries of Santorini. The
nightlife in Santorini is another reason why the island is so famous.
After a day of relaxing on the beach, all these bars/clubs/lounges
open up on a nearly endless strip along the water, each with its own
theme.

Naxos was a more family-oriented island, but the beaches were
very calm and had nice, soft sand. There is also a ruined temple of
Poseidon we visited while there. Poros was our favorite because it
was the most relaxing of the three islands and the whole atmosphere of
the island is very laid-back. It was also the least touristy so not
too crowded and felt more “authentic.” The island is not that big and
we mostly spent time on the beaches (smooth pebbles, not sand) which
are located sporadically along the coast of the island.

Poros is also closest to Athens, which made it easy (and more comforting) to get
back in time for Shabbos. We did not organize a place to stay when
coming to Poros but we found a cheap, great room right as we got off
the boat. There are rental places that have rooms available right
away and can easily be bargained down. Though we did not do this for
the other islands, I believe all islands have a similar system.

Jewish Info: The Greek Islands do not have any established Jewish
communities, history or culture on the Islands. The Jewish
communities are in Thessaloniki (Saloniki) and Athens. We spent
Shabbos in Athens since there was a minyan and access to kosher food.
We ate both Shabbos meals at the Hendel’s, the Chabad couple in
Athens. See their website http://www.chabad.gr for more info.

About the author

Tina Pollack

  • The fact that they do catch a lot of fish everywhere in Greece is one thing but unless you know what to look for in order to determine if the fish you are about to purchase is kosher is a different story. It now depends where they wash this fish and on what surface they have put it down on until they wrap up the fish. Now they are going to apply what you think is olive oil and spices. Spices have to be checked for infestation as Greece is a warm climate and bugs do grow in spices. Now that the preparer has possibly rubbed in the spices into your fish with his greasy hands from a previously prepared non-kosher meal he is now going to wrap up your ?’kosher’ fish and grill it double wrapped no less on a non-kosher grill where other non-kosher items are being grilled. The foil has remained magically intact at all times – not likely. It is then returned to your table where it is now most likely placed on top of non-kosher dinnerware and in order to open it you have to use non-kosher cutlery to eat with it as well. Next is to deal with the bread & vegetables. The bread is most likely a house bread & not kosher. The salad whose vegetables have not been checked for infestation and served on a plate that has been used prior, even though washed, to consume other non-kosher items being served with non-kosher wine based salad dressings. Sorry to burst your bubble but there are no shortcuts to keeping kosher on the road especially in Greece. In years to come it will get appreciably better in Greece.

    • Abigayil Rojas-Taylor

      This sounds like a situation where you have compiled every possible problem into one unlikely scenario which when careful can be avoided. It’s true that the author over simplifies the situation, you’re over complicating it as well. Fish which is freshly caught and has not been cleaned can be arranged to be cleaned in a non problematic way I’d if you know what to do. Being your own fixings and if you’re really careful, your own knife or have them wash the knife (claim allergies). Also, stainless steel is non-porous and has rabbinic approbation for use. It does not absorb taam. Ask for the fish to be unopened and you open it yourself. Ask for an uncut lemon and use your own salt and pepper. You can even give them your own souvenir little bottle of oil to use. Triple wrap it if you want.

  • Upon praying in the synagogue in Hania(Crete) you will have to make sure that your co-parishioners are Jewish. There is an attendance of Christians & Muslims at services from the island, as there is an open-door policy. There are not enough Jewish residents to make up a minyan. There is a kosher bread bakery in Heraklion(Iraklion) not from from center of town where all breads & bread rusks are Kosher-Parve. Organic breads also available. For more kosher products http://www.chabad.gr

  • Joseph Davis

    There is amazing Jewish culture in Rhodes. I had no idea when I went, but there used to be an entire Jewish community before the nazis y”sh came and shipped them off to Auschwitz. There is an older Jewish man who watches over the only remaining synagogue there. It is amazing to experience. Ask for the seahorse fountain when you visit the island. The shul is not far away. Any tour guide can take you there. It is such an amazing experience.

  • Kelly Rogers

    It is really nice to visit Greece. I hope I can explore it soon as it’s part of my bucket list.

    • Kelly Rogers

      Do you think there are still cheap flights to Greece at this time? It think it would be wonderful to visit this country now before prices go up.

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