Wednesday, July 18, 2012
"Discovering Your Jewish Heritage in Greece" article
The blog "AcrossGreece - Online Greek Travel Guide" featured an article
"Emily Isaacs Udler visited Greece in order to re-discover her Jewish roots. Below is what she found out during her trip.
I have just returned from 10 days in Greece . The idea for the trip arose out of a conversation with a dear couple of former-Brazilian friends from Rehovot as we sipped our afternoon coffees at Cup O’Joe. They slowly organized a small group and I found an experienced guide so that all in all our group consisted of 5 former-Brazilians (4 of whom were from Porto Alegre and were friends of Avi’s, and a former-Brazilian woman from Sao Paolo), a former-Hungarian doctor and myself. The languages spoken in the van were Hebrew, Portuguese, Yiddish and English, and outside the van – lots of Greek. So we had many jokes in Yiddish, a lot of laughs, lots of translations and even some misunderstandings.
Our main route was from Athens towards the northwest to Delphi, to high snow-covered mountains where we had a snowball fight, up towards Metzovo a village settled by Romanians, to Ioannina, Zagoria, Kastoria, Meteora (the hanging monasteries), Thessaloniki , Larissa and back to Athens – close to 2000 kilometers .
Ostensibly this was to have been a relaxing sight-seeing vacation. In actuality, it was a vacation, sometimes relaxing and full of beautiful sights, but for me the shadow of the Jewish Greek Holocaust loomed large. Pre-WWII there were 77,102 Jews, and afterwards 9,951 (87% of the communities were annihilated).
As most of you know, I was born in Ioannina, and coming back was filled with excitement and anxiety. The Jewish community is one of the oldest, dating back over 1500 years. In pre-WWII the community numbered 1850; only 163 survived."