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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

If Heather Lehrman is not yet a familiar face to local pet owners, her name is likely to soon become a household name to dog lovers and families with young children, as her children’s book, Bullied at the Dog Park, was released this week. The book is based on a real-life incident with her own dog, Herbie, and fans will have a chance to meet her and Herbie at a book signing at Petco in Glen Cove on Saturday, Oct. 25.

 

“I wanted to help get the message out in my own way about the effects of bullying,” says Lehrman, a resident of Great Neck. “This book teaches children valuable lessons about treating all dogs (and people) with respect, and the importance of simple kindness.”

It was Dec. 31, 1999, the last day of the 20th century, and Florence Dolling was preparing an elaborate Thai dinner for a New Year’s Eve celebration in her home in Glen Cove when the phone rang.  It was her doctor reporting that, “Yes, it was breast cancer.” She kept on cooking, attempting to retain as much normalcy as she could muster, knowing that, with the new millennium, there would certainly come change.

 

“I wore a red strapless bustier for the party because I thought I was saying goodbye to the ‘girls’,” she says. “My husband, my sense of humor, and my friends, helped me get through that night,” she recalls.


Sports

On Tuesday, Oct. 7, the Glen Cove Finley Middle School opened their football season with a home game against Thompson Middle School. The game opened with the Glen Cove offense going on a nice drive, which saw quarterback Mike Vaughan score on a 30-yard touchdown run. 

Six North Shore High School athletes competed in the 2014 JCC Maccabi Games and led the New York Delegation to victory, winning gold. The students included Jacob Abramowitz, Brett Bennett, Drew Jacklin, Ben Lerner, Josh Mandell, and Ben Saltzman. The Maccabi Games is a week-long Olympic tournament for Jewish teenage athletes, ages 14-16 years old. It is held in numerous venues across the United States. 

 

Bennett proudly said, “Competing in the Maccabi Games was a unique and thrilling experience for me. It not only was a highly competitive basketball tournament, but it also emphasized the importance of building strong values such as good sportsmanship, leadership, team unity, compassion and respect.

This, for me, was an experience of a lifetime!” 


Calendar

PTA Meeting - October 15

Live Music - October 16

Wine Tasting - October 17


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