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.
Friday, 22 August 2014 00:00
The Glen Cove City Council’s decision to allow amplified music at outdoor cafes at last week’s special meeting was music to the ears of The View Grill manager Frank Venturino. The council voted 6-1 in favor of the decision to allow music from the period of Aug. 12 to Sept. 30. Councilman Efraim Spagnoletti was the only council member to vote no on the resolution.
“We just want to have some background entertainment for our patrons while they are at our restaurant,” said Venturino. “We don’t plan to get wild with the music. We just want to support local talent who entertain people with a microphone and maybe an acoustic guitar from 3 to 7 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays.”
Thursday, 21 August 2014 00:00
Mayor Reginald Spinello is pictured with students at the School for Language and Communication Development in Glen Cove. The students had prepared a showcase of their projects for a “World Day Celebration.” They spoke to the guests about the many different cultures and languages spoken around the world.
“The administration, faculty, and staff at the School for Language and Communication Development provide the students with an exceptional education and I am very proud that they are a part of our great city,” said Mayor Spinello.
Thursday, 21 August 2014 00:00
All athletes interested in putting their bodies to the ultimate test can hop on over to Theodore Roosevelt Memorial Park in Oyster Bay, which will once again be the site of Long Island’s premiere multisport event – the 27th annual Runner’s Edge - Town of Oyster Bay Triathlon on Saturday, Aug. 23, and the Runner’s Edge – Town of Oyster Bay Junior Triathlon for youngsters ages 8-13 on Sunday, Aug. 24.
The Saturday main event is a “sprint” triathlon, which consists of a half-mile swim in Oyster Bay harbor, a one loop 15 kilometer bike ride over hill and dale through beautiful Oyster Bay, Oyster Bay Cove and Laurel Hollow, and a 5 kilometer run through Mill Neck and Brookville, “up” to Planting Fields Arboretum and “down”to the finish at back at Roosevelt Park.
Thursday, 14 August 2014 00:00
Kristen Gillman earned a come-from-behind two-up victory over Brooke Mackenzie Henderson in the 36-hole championship match of the 2014 U.S. Women’s Amateur Championship, being conducted at the 6,297-yard, par-70 Nassau Country Club in Glen Cove. The final match was held on Sunday, Aug. 10.
Gillman, 16, of Austin, Texas, was three down through 26 holes to Henderson, 16, of Canada. But Gillman, a junior at Lake Travis High School, birdied five of the final 10 holes to complete the remarkable rally.