The Greek Press Today
© Copyright Embassy of Greece 1996-2005. All Rights Reserved.
16 April, 2007
The historic Jewish organisation B'nai B'rith International is organising a series of cultural events, in cooperation with the Greek Embassy in Washington, titled "The Odyssey of the Jews of Greece...A Journey Throughout the Ages".
An official dinner marking the opening of the events was held in Washington on Friday night, attended by the B'nai B'rith leadership, Greek ambassador to the US Alexandros Mallias, members of the diplomatic corps and members of the American-Jewish community.
B'nai B'rith vice-president Dan Mariaschin spoke of the great improvement and strengthening of relations between Greece and Israel in the past decades, and noted that Israel was Greece's biggest trade partner in the Middle East.
He also stressed that during the German occupation of Greece, the Church of Greece, prominent and anonymous Greek citizens had provided refuge to their Jewish counterparts.
Mariaschin presented the Greek ambassador with an honorary distinction for the cooperation he has developed with American-Jewish organisations.
Ambassador Mallias stressed that the younger generations needed to learn from the Holocaust, noting the importance of History for both the Greek and Israeli peoples and the need to divert efforts aimed at distorting history, regardless of where those efforts originated.
He stressed that Greece paid a heavy price in blood throughout the Occupation, during which Christians and Jews alike were killed, and made special mention of the massacre of the Jewish community of Thessaloniki and the need to attribute historic justice to the Jewish communities of Macedonia, of which there is no official mention in the Holocaust Museum.
Mallias further expressed appreciation for B'nai B'rith's adoption of his proposal to honor, at the events, Panos Spiliakos, president of the Pan-Macedonian Association of the US and the son of Dimitris Spiliakos who has been recognised with the Righteous among the Nations distinction for saving the lives of many Jews in Thessaloniki during the Occupation
Since 2003, the B'nai B'rith International Klutznick National Jewish Museum has presented in-depth programs on Jewish Spanish, Indian, Romanian, and Turkish life. Throughout April, May, and June, B'nai B'rith International's Center for Jewish Culture will feature a series of programs to illuminate Jewish culture in Greece entitled "The Odyssey of the Jews of Greece."
Jews are believed to have lived in Greece as far back as the Babylonian Exile (586-530 BC). Over time, distinctive Jewish communities formed-the Romaniote Jews, who were numerous during the Roman Empire, and a flourishing Sephardic merchant community in the Ottoman period, as just two examples. The Nazi arrival in Thessaloniki in 1941, led to the extermination of virtually the entire Jewish community.
Today's Greek Jewish traditions are hardly monolithic. Jewish Greek communities incorporate a diverse variety of dress, music, food, and non-Jewish Greek customs into their every day lives.
The "Jews of Greece" program series is a veritable "odyssey" of events. Programs such as a professional theatrical production focused on a Greek Jew's memories from the Holocaust, a photographic essay of Jewish Greek communities, Jewish Greek cooking demonstrations, and an evening of Jewish music will highlight this diversity from ancient times through today. The programs are designed to pique participants' interest so they may seek out additional understanding of related cultural phenomena.
Some of the events, which will run through April, May and June, include:
"Golgotha: Sephardic Memories of the Holocaust", a one-person play that relates the experiences of a Greek Jew from Thessaloniki, who recounts the loss of his family in Auschwitz and Birkenau in 1943. Play by Dr. Shmuel Refael of Bar-Ilan University, Tel Aviv, directed by Geula Jeffet Attar and performed by Victor Attar.
The play is made possible with the generous support of the Embassies of Israel and Greece.
Keeping the Legacy Alive: the Jews of Ioannina. Filmmaker Ed Askinazi talks about his mission to keep alive the intensely original legacy of one of the world's oldest Jewish communities through his film "A Synagogue on Broome Street". Following the movie, there will be Greek dancing, music, and food.
Kosher Holiday Cooking à la Grecque: Professional chef Nina Kaplanides will have participants rolling (and eating!) dolmas by the end of the lesson.
Apo Pou Eisai? (Where Are You From?): An evening of conversation and sharing experiences among Greek Jews,
recollections of a Righteous Greek Gentile as related by his son, and Greek Jewish Geography.
"Portraits of Our Past: The Sephardic Communities of Greece and the Holocaust": A photographic essay compiled by Robert Bedford and produced by the Foundation for the Advancement of Sephardic Studies and Culture
Source: Athens News Agency