Having survived World War II, decades of neglect, and its partial destruction in a 1978 earthquake, Thessaloniki’s Monastiriotes synagogue has finally been restored. Its congregants simultaneously celebrated its reopening and Israeli independence day on May 15. Elias Messinas writes:
The synagogue was designed by the Czech Jewish architect Eli Ernst Levi and funded by families that moved to Thessaloniki from Monastir [in modern-day Macedonia]. . . . After World War II, it was at this synagogue that the Jewish survivors of the Holocaust held their first meetings. . . . The Monastiriotes synagogue was among the very few that survived the war, thanks to the intervention of the Red Cross, which used it as storehouse. . . .
[The restoration affected] every possible corner and detail of the synagogue: from hiding exposed wiring to revealing the original hidden decorative terrazzo floor tiles; from revealing original wall paintings to replacing and adding damaged decorative plaster decorations . . . to erecting again the [marble depiction of the Ten Commandments crowning the central arch of the synagogue façade, which had fallen off during the earthquake].