History of Greece's Jewish Community Before the Holocaust Presented in D.C.

History of Greece's Jewish Community Before the Holocaust Presented in D.C.

by Tasos Kokkinidis

Published on 29 March 2019 in the GreekReporter.com


Over one hundred people of Greek-American and/or Sephardic Jewish descent gathered together earlier in March to celebrate their rich, shared history at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (USHMM).

The event, titled “The Jewish Community of Greece Before the Holocaust: A Multimedia Presentation“, was a collaborative effort by the Hellenic American Women’s Council (HAWC) with support from Sephardic Heritage International D.C.

The presentation enabled the audience to learn about what has been added into USHMM’s collection regarding the Jewish community of Greece prior to and during World War II, and after the Holocaust.

Vicki Georges, Youth Director for the HAWC and the Development Coordinator at USHMM, opened the program by briefly explaining why these discussions are important. She stated, “The Holocaust and genocide are topics that are relevant to learn about and to discuss to this day.

“However, it is equally important to talk about the victims of atrocities because they were once someone’s grandmother, son, mother; an active part of a thriving community. Their stories matter and deserve to be told… their oppressors did not truly win in the end,” Georges added.

When the Sephardic Jews were expelled from Spain in 1492 because of their faith, a great number came to the Ottoman Empire to rebuild their lives, where the “Romaniotes” Jewish community had been thriving since 70 AD.

The Sephardic Jewish community of Greece flourished for almost five hundred years, especially in the northern city of Thessaloniki, or “Salonika.” The city became a hub of Sephardic heritage, and their cultural and economic contributions gave it the nickname, “The Mother of Israel.”

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