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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

Glen Cove residents may see a 1.64 percent increase in the tax levy next year, the amount proposed at last week’s public hearing. Mayor Reginald Spinello and the Glen Cove City Council held an initial reading of the proposed budget for 2015, and will take final vote on Tuesday, Oct. 28, at the next city council meeting.

 

“It’s very easy for a first time mayor to raise the taxes and blame it on a prior administration, and that is not what I am doing,” said Mayor Spinello. “In the past three administrations there were budgets with increases of  almost 28 percent to down to 12 percent, but it’s a different time now...I think that the residents are certainly going to feel relief. I put together a budget...that I believe is fair and reasonable and a good budget.”

Richie Cannata may be best known for his song credits but his name will become a part of history this week. Cannata, a 28-year resident and business owner of Glen Cove, will be inducted into the Long Island Music Hall of Fame on Thursday, Oct. 23 at The Paramount in Huntington.

 

As a member of the Billy Joel Band, the saxophone player was propelled to fame in 1975 when he joined the band and played on songs including “New York State of Mind” and “Scenes from an Italian Restaurant.”


Sports

The Town of Oyster Bay, in conjunction with the New York Rangers, will once again host a special Try Hockey for Free Program on Sunday morning, Oct. 26 from 8 a.m. to noon at ithe Ice Skating Center located in Bethpage Community Park, 1000 Stewart Ave. 

 

The event will allow youngsters a unique opportunity to sample the sport of ice hockey. Four morning sessions will be available. Session times are 8 to 9 a.m., 9 to 10 a.m., 10 to 11 a.m. and 11 a.m. to noon.

On Thursday, Oct. 2, North Shore High School quarterback Michael Floccari shattered a school record and tied a Long Island record for the most touchdown passes in a game. This accomplishment ties him with E.J. Clark from Seaford High School (1977) and Joe Capobianco form Lawrence High school (2011). 


Calendar

Harvest Square Dance - October 24

Fall Festival - Octobner 24 - 25

Peace, Politics and Projectiles - October 26


Columns

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

The Eccentric Heiress Of ‘Empty Mansions’
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Yellow Margarine And A Pitch For The Ages
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