Romaniote Jews, the indigenous Jews of Greece, have lived on Greek soil for over 2,300 years and have the distinction of the longest, continuous Jewish presence in the European Diaspora. They established communities throughout the Eastern Mediterranean, settling along the shores of the Sea and along inland trade routes. By the 1st century C.E., communities were present in Thessaloniki, Verroia, Corinthos, Patras, Athens, and Rhodes, as attested to by the writings of St. Paul, a Hellenzied Jew who preached the new religion of Christianity from the bemas of existing synagogues throughout the Mediterranean.
In 324 C.E. when Constantine the Great moved the capital of Rome from the city of Rome to a city on the Bosphorus (Constantinople) he inherited the Greek speaking Jews who had lived there for over five hundred years. Now part of the Roman Empire, they called themselves Romaniotes.
Leon Colchamiro (center), one of the founders and Rabbis of Kehila Kedosha Janina, along with his extended family