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Friday, 12 October 2018 08:51

On 4.10.2018 the President of the Jewish Community of Thessaloniki, President of the Central Board of Jewish Communities in Greece and Vice- president of the World Jewish Congress, Mr. David Saltiel, was awarded with the title of Commander of the Order of Isabella the Catholic in a ceremony hosted by His Excellency the Ambassador of Spain in Athens, Mr. Enrique Viguera Rubio at the Byzantine Museum of Thessaloniki.

In the beginning of the ceremony, the Honorary Consul of Spain in Thessaloniki, Mr. Samuel Nahmias, welcomed the guests and the Counselor of the Embassy of Spain, Mr. Juan Saenz de Heredia, read out the Royal Decree.

The Ambassador of Spain in his address following the decoration of Mr. Saltiel, referred to the strong bonds between Spain and the Jewish Community of Thessaloniki. He stressed particularly Mr. Saltiel’s contribution towards the preservation of the Sephardic culture and the Judeo-Spanish language.

In turn, Mr. Saltiel highlighted the special link that the Sephardic Jews of Thessaloniki have with Spain and pointed out the efforts of Sebastian Romero Radigales, the Spanish Consul in Athens during the period of the Holocaust, to prevent the transportation of 367 Sephardic Jews from Thessaloniki to the death camps of Auschwitz – Birkenau, and their transportation to Bergen Belsen instead and later to Spain. He also referred to the efforts of the Jewish Community of Thessaloniki to preserve the vast cultural legacy that connects the Jews of Thessaloniki to Spain.

In his short address, the Mayor of Thessaloniki, Mr. Yannis Boutaris, mentioned his cooperation with Mr. Saltiel on the project of the creation of the Holocaust Museum of Greece in Thessaloniki.

The ceremony ended with a performance of the musical interlude “Flores de la Iberica”, a tour from Medieval Spain to the Jerusalem of the Balkans through Sephardic and Greek songs, by the soprano, Mrs. Mariangela Chatzistamatiou and Codex Ensemble, conducted by Mr. Kostis Papazoglou. 

The guests had the chance to view the exhibition “Beyond the Call of Duty: the humanistic response of the Spanish Ministry of Foreign Affairs during the Holocaust”

The ceremony was attended among others, by the Ambassador of Israel in Athens, Mrs. Irit Ben Abba, the Deputy Minister of Interior (Macedonia – Thrace), Mrs. Katerina Notopoulou and members of the consular corps in Thessaloniki.

The next day, the Spanish Embassy in collaboration with the Jewish Community of Thessaloniki and the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki organized a lecture titled “Sebastian Romero Radigales, savior of the Sephardic Jews of Thessaloniki” with Mrs. Elena Colitto (grand- daughter of Sebaastian Romero Radigales), Mr. Isaac Revah (survivor of the Holocaust) and Mrs. Yessica San Roman (Holocaust and Anti- Semitism Department, Centro Sefarad – Israel in Madrid).


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