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Holocaust Afflicted Greek Jews

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.


News

Known for her love of exotic cars, sophisticated leather fashions and a penchant for giving back, part-time Long Islander Joanne Del Prete-Rosten can often be seen driving around town in her Lamborghini LP550, which is decked out in the colors of her clothing company, Canto NYC.  On Sunday, Sept. 14, those interested in getting a closer look at the car that has become somewhat of a local celebrity can see it on display with hundreds of exotic cars at the sixth annual Gold Coast Concours/Bimmerstock event, presented by Martino

Auto Concepts and benefiting the Diabetes Research Institute. Rain or shine, the event will take place in downtown Glen Cove from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. and is free to spectators. For those wanting to register a car, the fee is $20 in advance and $25 on the day of the event.

As a fitness coach and a mother, Melissa Monteforte of Locust Valley knows how important it is to stay healthy, and how difficult it can be for women to make themselves, and their health, a priority. Wanting to help women take charge and feel more in control, she organized the Fit & Healthy Mamas Annual 5K run, now in its third year, which will take place on

Saturday, Sept. 13 from 8:30 a.m. to noon at Eisenhower Park in East Meadow.

 

“I felt like running was the best outlet when I became a mother; it’s such a great way to get fit and feel healthy and I wanted to share that with other moms,” says Monteforte, 31. “I wanted women to feel celebrated, no matter their fitness level, and to put their health first.”


Sports

At the end of July, children from across Long Island traveled to Pierce Country Day Camp in Roslyn to make a big splash for disaster relief. Two events hosted by the American Red Cross gave young swimmers the opportunity to put their skills to the test, all while raising money to support their local Red Cross.

 

In late July, hundreds of children came out to the venerable Pierce County Day Camp to swim laps in support of the Red Cross. The children raised a collective amount of over $11,000.

Glen Cove High School graduate and former All-County basketball star Garen Spendjian has proven that hard work and dedication to a sport you love can pay off.

 

The Armenian National Basketball Team player will soon begin his professional basketball career with the El Shams basketball team of Cairo, Egypt. The 6’5” Spendjian will play both the power forward and small forward positions for El Shams of the Egyptian Super League. 


Calendar

Soccer Parade - September 13

Rotary Day - September 13

Bimmerstock - September 14


Columns

1959: The Year The Music Stopped Playing
Written by Michael A. Miller, mmillercolumn@gmail.com

The Eccentric Heiress Of ‘Empty Mansions’
Written by Mike Barry, MFBarry@optonline.net

Yellow Margarine And A Pitch For The Ages
Written by Michael A. Miller, mmillercolumn@gmail.com