The tragedy that befell Jews living in Greece during World War II was poignantly told to about 600 people gathered at the Nassau County Holocaust Memorial & Tolerance Center in Glen Cove on April 7, Holocaust Remembrance Day.
Marcia Haddad Ikonomopoulos, museum director of Kehila Kedosha Janina in New York City, who gave an historical overview of the story that has not been widely told, said that although the Jews of Greece have the distinction of being the longest Jewish presence in the European Diaspora, going back 2,300 years, they also have the unfortunate distinction of having the greatest percentage of Jews lost in any officially occupied country during WWII.
Greek Jews had had a good life. They were prosperous, well-educated, integrated members of Greek society. During the occupation that began in April 1941 there was an “illusion of safety,” said Ikonomopoulos. ”Families were close and wanted to stay together, opportunities to escape were not taken.” It was not until late in the war, March of 1943, that the deportations began. In a short period of time, eighty-seven percent of all Greek Jews had perished, primarily at Auschwitz-Birkenau. From Thrace, in the Bulgarian Occupation Zone, the number was over 98 percent.
“Today, there are about 5,000 Jews living in Greece, primarily in Athens or Salonica,” noted the Arye Mekel, Israeli ambassador to Greece, who flew in from Greece to mark the occasion. In his keynote speech, Mekel cautioned that in times of severe economic crisis, such as the case currently in Greece, there is a tendency for politics to lean radically to the left or right. During the past elections, 18 members of the extreme right-wing Golden Dawn, a party with neo-Nazi roots, were elected to the Greek Parliament. Despite this, Greek-Israeli relations continue to improve as the two countries are partnering together in such areas as defense and tourism.
In his welcoming remarks, Steven Markowitz, Chairman of the Board, described one of the missions of the center. “Our job is to honor the victims, honor the survivors, honor the rescuers and honor the stories,” he said, “and to tell the stories that haven’t been widely told.” State Assemblyman Charles Lavine remarked, “We solemnly gather today in strength to speak for those who cannot speak anymore. Our voices are their voices.”
The Holocaust Center is currently running a special exhibit, Portraits of Our Past: Greek Jews and the Holocaust. The exhibit of photography and artifacts documenting Jewish life in Greece before, during and after the Holocaust is provided by the Foundation for the Advancement of Sephardic Studies and Culture and the Kehila Kedosha Janina Synagogue and Museum. The exhibit will be on display at the Holocaust Memorial and Tolerance Center of Nassau County, 100 Crescent Beach Road, Glen Cove, through August 15 and will challenge those who view it to never forget that which they might never have known. For further information, visit: www.holocaust-nassau.org.
Wednesday, 23 April 2014 00:00
Zachary Gotterbarn, a member of Boy Scout Troop 72, is an extraordinary 9-year-old who recently exhibited maturity and courage beyond his years. While riding in a car with his mom, Zachary sprang into action to help his young cousin who was choking on a cookie. Without hesitation, Zachary quickly used the “finger sweep,” a technique he learned in Scouting, and dislodged the cookie blocking his cousin’s airway. Zachary saved his cousin’s life. During a recent City Council meeting, Mayor Reginald Spinello and the City Council commended Zachary for his heroic act. Glen Cove Volunteer EMS Chief Tom Kenary presented Zachary with an honorary EMS member pin and tee-shirt. Zachary is pictured with Mayor Spinello, the City Council, and his family.
Saturday, 19 April 2014 00:00
In order to meet the necessary budget requirements, the Glen Cove School District will reduce school staff members, starting in the 2014-15 school year. One administrative staff member and nine instructional staff members will be let go, according to Superintendent
Maria Rianna’s report at the Monday night school board meeting. Staff reductions will also be made to teaching assistants, school monitors, substitute teachers and custodial and maintenance workers. The total savings for the district is $1,227,669.
As of March 31, revenues for the district total $79,281,428. The revenues include the tax levy ($64,780,719), P.I.L.O.T.s ($1,908,060), tax on consumer utility bills ($1,250,000)n use of reserves ($1,250,000), State Aid ($8,751,799), all other revenues ($635,850) and appropriation of unassigned fund balance ($750,000).
The total appropriations for the district are $80,509,097 and revenues are $79,281,428 with a budget gap of $1,227,669.
Thursday, 17 April 2014 00:00
Glen Cove High School players, from left, Tajah Garner, Dejon Taylor, Manny Sican, and Ralik Jackson, after the Long Island Colts u18’s team vs. St. Anthony’s at Robert Finley Middle School last week. Touchdown ‘tries’ by Garner, Taylor and Sican.
Thursday, 17 April 2014 00:00
The third- and fourth-grade Knights took to the road last weekend as they faced off against Jericho early Sunday morning, April 6. Jericho’s teamwork and hustle brought down the Knights by a final score of 5 – 0. The early game may have been a factor as the boys started to play better and more like a team as the game went on. Once again, goalie Tyler Shea played outstanding in goal and was relieved by Christian Maiorano, who did just as well in the second half. Andrew Guster played solid defense in the loss.