Greek Jew in Cyprus

Main Language
Largest Religion
Progress Gauge

Introduction / History

The beautiful island of Cyprus holds in its name the Latin word for copper, Cyprium, which made this island one of the most valuable places in the Mediterranean. Copper was vitally needed for making bronze which was in high demand by all the ancient Mediterranean civilizations. Historically, the island has been part of many ancient civilizations including Ancient Egypt, Persia, Ancient Greece, and the Roman Empire. Starting in 364 AD, Cyprus was ruled for 800 years by the Byzantium (Eastern Roman) Empire. Beginning in the 12th century, the island changed hands several times until it came under control of the Ottoman Empire in the 1500s. In 1878 Great Britain took over the island and made it an official British colony in 1925. The Jewish people started trading with the people of Cyprus around 200 BC and a few of them began to live on the island. In the first century BC the Roman emperor Caesar Augustus gave Herod (37 BC-4 AD), king of Judea the job of overseeing the management of the copper mines of Cyprus. Herod sent Jewish people to the island to work in the mines. In approximately 47-49 AD, the Jewish Apostles of Christ, Paul and Barnabas (Acts 14:14) traveled to Cyprus to bring the gospel to the Jewish people on the island. Barnabas was martyred at Salamis, Cyprus. He is traditionally identified as the founder of the Cypriot Orthodox Church. Under the leadership of Artemion, the Cypriot Jews participated in the great rebellion due to persecution they were enduring from the Romans in 117 AD. They destroyed Salamis and killed hundreds of thousands of Greeks. A Roman army was dispatched to the island and soon reconquered the capital. After the revolt was fully defeated, the Romans passed laws that did not allow any Jews to live on the island. After a few years of calm, the Jewish communities began to grow and thrive once again in Cyprus. In the seventh century, there was a large Jewish community in Famagusta and in the 12th century, Benjamin of Tudela found three Jewish sects on the island. Between the 12th and 15th centuries, more Jews lived on Cyprus than on any of the other Greek island. In the 16th century, Cyprus became a part of the Ottoman Empire and the Jewish population dwindled. Cyprus came under British administration in 1878. During the late 19th and 20th century, European Jews made multiple attempts to settle in Cyprus as it was difficult for them to settle in Israel due to problems the country was having. Between 1883-1900 several hundred Russian and Romanian Jewish people migrated to the Island. With the help of the JCA (Jewish Colonial Association) these families developed farms and remained in Cyprus until after WW1(1928) when they moved to Israel and the JCA closed. After the rise of Nazism in 1933, hundreds of Jews escaped to Cyprus. At the end of WW II, the British set up a detention camp in Cyprus for Holocaust survivors who were trying to enter Palestine. From 1946 until the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948, the British helped 53,000 Holocaust survivors on the island. Once the State of Israel was created in 1948, most of the refugees made their way to Israel.

What Are Their Lives Like?

In 1970, only a few Jewish people were left in Cyprus. Until 2005, there was no communal Jewish life except for occasional religious services. In 2005, Rabbi Raskin arrived and established the Chabad House in Larnaca which holds daily minyans and Shabbat and holiday services and provides kosher meals, holds Torah and Judaism classes and facilitates aid to Cypriots seeking medical treatment in Israel. The few Jewish people who remain in Cyprus are there for professional reasons. Motivated to succeed in business, these Jewish people see Cyprus as a location to gain economically and improve their lives. They enjoy the atmosphere of a European culture, however, they are on guard against discrimination and do not push their cultural identity. Living a life based on the Hebrew Scriptures is usually not something these Jewish people desire.

What Are Their Beliefs?

Most Cypriotic Jewish people are secular and have very little belief in God as described in their Hebrew Scriptures. With the opening of the Chabad House in Larnaca a few more Cypriot Jews are attending services for the social bonding of being with other Jewish people.

What Are Their Needs?

Most Cypriot Jewish people are secular and removed from their spiritual, Hebraic heritage. They do not know or feel a need for the God who has from the beginning of time made and fulfilled his Covenants with their forefathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, in order that they would be his chosen people (Deuteronomy 29:13). It will take dedicated believers to befriend these people so they will know the truth of who God is and why they need to follow him. Reaching these people could be the open door needed to reach other Jewish people in Israel.

Prayer Points

* Scripture Prayers for the Jew, Greek in Cyprus.

Pray that God will work on the hearts of Christ followers and Jewish believers to establish friendships with the Jewish people of Cyprus so they can share their faith with them. Pray that the Cypriotic Jewish people will be open to God's word. Pray that these Cypriotic Jewish people will understand that becoming a Messianic Believer does not mean that they will lose their Jewish identity. Pray for a Disciple Making Movement for the Cypriotic Jews.

Profile Source:   Joshua Project  

People Name General Jew, Greek-speaking
People Name in Country Jew, Greek
Natural Name Greek Jew
Population this Country 300
Population all Countries 3,200
Total Countries 2
Indigenous Yes
Progress Scale 1
Unreached Yes
Frontier People Group Yes
Pioneer Workers Needed 1
Alternate Names
People ID 19234
ROP3 Code 115643
Country Cyprus
Region Europe, Western
Continent Europe
10/40 Window No
Persecution Rank Not ranked
Location in Country Nearly all in south Cyprus   Source:  Ethnologue 2010
Country Cyprus
Region Europe, Western
Continent Europe
10/40 Window No
Persecution Rank Not ranked
Location in Country Nearly all in south Cyprus.   Source:  Ethnologue 2010

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Ethnolinguistic map or other map

Primary Language Greek (300 speakers)
Language Code ell   Ethnologue Listing
Language Written Yes   ScriptSource Listing
Total Languages 1
Primary Language Greek (300 speakers)
Language Code ell   Ethnologue Listing
Total Languages 1
People Groups Speaking Greek

Primary Language:  Greek

Bible Translation Status  (Years)
Bible-Portions Yes  (1547-1949)
Bible-New Testament Yes  (1638-1989)
Bible-Complete Yes  (1518-2003)
Bible-NT Audio Online
Bible-NT Text Online
Possible Print Bibles
World Bibles
Forum Bible Agencies
National Bible Societies
World Bible Finder
Virtual Storehouse
Resource Type Resource Name
Audio Recordings Audio Bible teaching (Global Recordings Network)
Audio Recordings General Ministry Resources
Audio Recordings Online New Testament (Faith Comes By Hearing)
Audio Recordings Online Scripture (Talking Bibles)
Audio Recordings Story of Jesus audio (Jesus Film Project)
Film / Video Father's Love Letter
Film / Video God's Story Video
Film / Video Jesus Film: view in Greek
Film / Video Magdalena (Jesus Film Project)
Film / Video My Last Day (Jesus Film Project Anime)
Film / Video Story of Jesus for Children (JF Project)
General Four Spiritual Laws
General Gospel resources links (Scripture Earth)
General Got Questions Ministry
General Walk with the Prophets and meet the Messiah
Mobile App Download audio Bible app as APK file from Faith Comes By Hearing
Text / Printed Matter Bible Gateway Scripture
Text / Printed Matter Bible: Filos Pergamos
Text / Printed Matter Bible: The Holy Bible in Contemporary Greek Language
Text / Printed Matter Bible: The New Testament in Modern Greek (Vellas Version)
Primary Religion: Ethnic Religions
Major Religion Percent
0.00 %
Christianity  (Evangelical 0.00 %)
0.00 %
Ethnic Religions
90.00 %
0.00 %
0.00 %
10.00 %
Other / Small
0.00 %
0.00 %
Christian Segments Percent
Other Christian
Roman Catholic
Photo Source Copyrighted © 2021  Alexandros Michailidis - Shutterstock  All rights reserved.  Used with permission
Profile Source Joshua Project  
Data Sources Data is compiled from various sources. Read more


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