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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

History will be made on Friday as Nassau Country Club opens its grounds for the U.S. Women’s Amateur Championship, playing host to the tournament which was last played on its greens 100 years ago. The tournament, conducted by the United States Golf Association (USGA), will have 156 women from all over the world competing for the Robert Cox Trophy and the title of national champion, including twin sisters Jennifer and Kristin Coleman, whose grandfather is a member of the club. 

 

For the Coleman sisters, 21, of Rolling Hills Estates, CA, the tournament will almost be like a homecoming: they began playing golf at age 5, and have played Nassau Country Club a number of times over the years while visiting their grandfather, Daniel Coleman, who lives in Glen Cove.

A public hearing was held last week to determine the fate of hookah lounges within the city limits of Glen Cove: it was decided they shall not be allowed. The City Council and Mayor Reginald Spinello voted to ban such establishments, a move that was well received by the majority of people present; only two people expressed opposition to the measure. 

 

“These establishments are becoming rather trendy,” said Mayor Spinello.


Sports

LI-Kick, the co-ed adult kickball league based in Glen Cove, was formed a little over one year ago and is already making a name for itself on the competitive kickball circuit.  On Saturday, July 12, the league sent two teams to McCarren Park in Greenpoint to compete in a national kickball competition sponsored by Brooklyn Kickball. Teams came from as far away as Toronto, Portland and Atlanta. LI-

Kick was the only league from Long Island to participate. 

Three members of the Glen Cove Big Red Boys Lacrosse Team were honored at the Nassau County Lacrosse Coaches Association Dinner on June 11.

Pictured are Ryan Perkins, Sean Peet and  Phil Grella, who were awarded for both their play on the field and their work in the classroom. Ryan was named to the All-County Honorable Mention Team, Sean and Phil were named to the All-Conference Team. All three also received Academic All-Conference standing for their work in the classroom.



Calendar

St. Rocco's Feast - July 30

US Women's Amateur Championship - August 1

Historical  Museum Renaming - August 3


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