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The Jewish community of Crete, established since ancient times, is remarkable among other Balkan communities as it retained its Greek-Jewish (Romaniote) ethno-cultural traditions into the modern era. Whereas other Romaniote communities throughout the Balkans were absorbed by the Sephardic immigrants arriving from Western Europe, in Crete foreign Italian and Iberian Jews were assimilated into the Romaniote population. In this article I describe the unique demographic, cultural, and political circumstances which facilitated both the incorporation of foreign migrants and enabled the preservation of the indigenous island population. Through an examination of extant primary sources, I propose a plausible reconstruction in which the factors that culminated in this unique phenomenon are described.