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A meeting with the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew had the Special Envoy on Combatting Anti-Semitism, Dr. Efstathios Lianos Liantis, in view of the visit of the Primate of Orthodoxy to the Auschwitz concentration camp, in order to lead the March of the Living, on May 2nd, 2019.

The Ecumenical Patriarch blessed the mission of removing every anti-Semitic stereotype and highlighted the need for co-operation between the actors of Christianity and Judaism, which the Ecumenical Throne has been realizing throughout its ministry through interreligious dialogue and many other initiatives of joint action. 

He also stressed that he was willing to take coordinating action in the Christian world in order to eliminate the social pathogenesis of anti-Semitism and to preserve the commitment to fight any negative prejudice and persecution in the name of religion. 
“Never Again’ March in Thessaloniki marked anniversary of first deportation to Auschwitz

THE TIMES OF ISRAEL, March 18, 2019, by Vassilis Kyriakoulis: Two thousand people held a silent march in Thessaloniki, marking the anniversary of the departure in 1943 of the first train taking members of its Jewish community to Auschwitz. Participants held white balloons bearing the message “Never Again.” They gathered at the city’s old railway station where that train pulled out on March 15, 1943. Among those present for the 76th anniversary commemoration was Jurgen Haus, grandson of a German soldier, who expressed his “deep regret” for the actions of his Nazi forebears. “I am here to break the silence… I love Israel, I cannot remain silent in the face of antisemitism,” he said in a speech. 

Holocaust survivors Heinz Kounio and Achileas Koukovinos were honoured during the commemorations. Thessaloniki had a population of more than 50,000 Jews before World War II, some 46,000 of whom were deported and killed in German Nazi death camps. 

Before the deportations started, the community in the city, which was composed mainly of Sephardic Jews chased out of Spain in 1492, had developed to the point where it earned the nickname the “Jerusalem of the Balkans.”


The Central Board of Jewish Communities in Greece expresses Greek Jewry’s deep concern and dismay for the deadly terrorist attacks with multiple casualties on two mosques in the city of Christchurch, in New Zealand. We strongly and unequivocally condemn this blatant act of cruel violence and we extend our deepest condolences to the families of the victims.  

This time the innocent victims of terror were Muslim worshipers at the time of prayer. The escalation of the attacks and widespread fanaticism bring the international community in front of its responsibilities and prove that hatred has no limits, it comes from everywhere and affects everyone.     

The danger from the dissemination of extremist theories regarding racial supremacy is today greater than ever in the post-World War II era. Knowledge and education, focusing on the respect of human rights and the tolerance for diversity, must be the first priority goal for State and social institutions, as well as for religious communities in order to prevent mourning new victims as those of Christchurch and Pittsburgh.        

Athens, March 18, 2019

Central Board of Jewish Communities in Greece

Thursday, 12 July 2018 08:09
Secretary General for Religious Affairs George Kalantzis, in a statement issued by the Greek Ministry of Education, on July 11, 2018, strongly condemned the desecration of the Jewish monument dedicated to the former Jewish cemetery of Thessaloniki which is situated in the campus of the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki. The statement reads the following:

“As if they never existed”. This was the Nazi plan of the “final solution”. That is the reason why murdering six million innocent Jews, destroying their synagogues and cemeteries, plundering and redistributing their property, changing street names, burning books and attempting to make disappear even the music and notes composed by Jews was not sufficient for them.
The desecration of the monument commemorating the Jewish cemetery of the city that once stood there where the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki is today – one of the most significant Jewish cemeteries in Europe- is to be entirely condemned and it is an act belonging to the Nazi tradition and perception.

The fact that the memorial was vandalized with the sacred symbol of the cross and the phrase “Jesus Christ Nika” is an additional insult and provocation for us Christians. Les us remember that Nazis went so far as to try to remove everything Jewish from Christianity, which would mean Christianity without Jesus Christ.  And we know where that led".

Source: Press Release, Greek Ministry of Education, July 11, 2018.
WJC condemns desecration of Jewish monument in Greece, calls on authorities to follow through with commitment to fighting anti-Semitism Print E-mail
Thursday, 12 July 2018 07:25
Press Release WJC, July 11, 2018 - The World Jewish Congress echoes the Greek Jewish community’s calls of “shame, shame, shame” following the desecration of the Jewish Monument in the campus of the Aristotle’s University of Thessaloniki, in the Observatory Park. This desecration comes just 12 days after the Holocaust Monument in Thessaloniki was vandalized for a third time in seven months.
The Monument was erected to commemorate the collective memory of the Jewish students of the Aristotle University who perished during the Holocaust. It also serves to mark an old Jewish cemetery which was destroyed by the Nazis and their collaborators in 1942, the remains upon which the Aristotle University campus was built.
World Jewish Congress President Ronald S. Lauder said, ‘’The consternation we feel following such a cowardly desecration is only compounded by the fact that this is not an isolated incident. There have been several such acts of desecration in Greece this year alone. We will continue to stand shoulder to shoulder with the Jewish Community of Thessaloniki and in Greece to fight combat racism, anti-Semitism and hatred under difficult circumstances.
"Just last week, Greece was one of 22 nations to co-sponsor a joint statement to the UN Human Rights Council denouncing anti-Semitism, at the initiative of the WJC. We urge Greece to follow through on its commitment to combating anti-Semitism, and treat these incidents with utmost severity, concern, and action. Such vile hatred must not be allowed to prevail."
Greek General Secretary of Religious Affairs George Kalantzis issued a statement in which he condemned the desecration of the monument as “an act which is part of the Nazi tradition and ideology”.
Friday, 29 June 2018 08:14
 Vandals defaced the Holocaust Monument in Thessaloniki with red paint in the night of Wednesday June 27, 2018. According to authorities and press reports, perpetrators may have been participants in a rally held earlier that day outside the Macedonia-Thrace Ministry to protest the name deal signed between Athens and Skopje.
The President of the Hellenic Republic Prokopis Pavlopoulos, in a telephone conversation with David Saltiel, the President of KIS and the Jewish Community of Thessaloniki, condemned the attack and expressed his firm opposition to any form of antisemitism. Mr Pavlopoulos confirmed also his participation in the March of the Living 2019.
The hideous attack was immediately condemned also by the Government, the political parties, the local Prefecture of Central Macedonia, the Municipality of Thessaloniki and many politicians. The Justice system was mobilized through the head prosecutor of Thessaloniki who ordered a preliminary investigation into the vandalism. The Central Board of Jewish Communities in Greece (KIS), and the Jewish Community of Thessaloniki issued press announcements.

The announcement of KIS stresses the following:

“The Central Board of Jewish Communities in Greece expresses the profound sorrow, the intense concern, and the outrage of the Greek Jews for the latest vandal attack against the Holocaust Monument of Thessaloniki that occurred in the night of June 27, 2018, for the third time during the last seven months.

The image of the Monument covered in red paint clearly indicates the intent of the vandals to paint in blood -once more- the Jews of Thessaloniki, a city that saw 50.000 of its Jewish citizens deported and murdered by the Nazis in the German extermination camps.

The Central Board of Jewish Communities in Greece calls upon the State and the social institutions to firmly condemn the desecration of the Holocaust memory, of the history of Thessaloniki and of the whole Greece. In the same time, the Authorities need to bring to Justice the seekers of darkness that aim at discrediting in the most deplorable way the image of the city.

The Monument will not lose its meaning and value: To remind to visitors the barbarity that led to the death of the Jews of Thessaloniki, only because they were Jewish, and alert society that absolute evil may happen again if we do not fortify the principals of our democracy and our humanism”.
Athens, 28 June 2018
Central Board of Jewish Communities in Greece
Thursday, 05 July 2018 10:16
President Reuven Rivlin has written to David Saltiel, president of the Central Board of Jewish Communities in Greece and president of the Jewish community of Thessaloniki, to express his dismay at the most recent desecration last week of the Holocaust Memorial in Thessaloniki.
“I join you in condemning unequivocally this vile despoiling of the memory of the victims,” wrote Rivlin. “Let us be in no doubt that this is a further reminder of the need to continue to stand up against antisemitism in all its forms.”
Rivlin was in Thessaloniki in January of this year to participate in the laying of the cornerstone for a Holocaust memorial museum, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visited the site in June last year. Rivlin recalled in his letter to Saltiel that at the museum ceremony he had said the Holocaust is not only a Jewish issue but an international issue that touches every nation and people. “And today, I again stand with you urging all to speak out against this terrible act of vandalism and the need to continue to educate about the Holocaust and the dangers of hatred and racism.
HOLOCAUST EDUCATION IN GREECE – A productive cooperation between Education Ministry and Jewish Organizations formalized by a Ministerial Decree Print E-mail
Tuesday, 05 June 2018 10:19

The Ministerial Decree 42856/Θ2 of the Ministry of Education Research and Religious Affairs (published in the Official Gazette of Greece, issue no 950 B / March 16, 2018), entitled “Student Contest – Educational Program on teaching about the Holocaust” comes as a capstone of a long term fruitful cooperation between the General Secretariat for Religious Affairs, the Jewish Museum of Greece (JMG) and the Central Board of Jewish Communities in Greece for the institutionalization of Holocaust education in Greece.

It was the JMG that spearheaded Holocaust education in Greece in 2002, with specific programs for schools and educators. Later, by the continuous efforts of the General Secretariat of Religious Affairs and its Secretary General George Kalantzis, the programs were expanded to more and more schools in Athens, Thessaloniki and other Greek cities as Ioannina, Larissa, Volos, Tripoli, Patras, Chania and included also a video contest on the Holocaust. And on the top of these programs, more than 80 Lyceum Greek students pay a visit to Auschwitz memorial and Museum, under the auspices of the Greek Ministry of Education.

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