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Tuesday, 19 August 2014 10:56

Zakynthian Jews from Athens, Israel and America met on the island of their birth at a moving event of tribute and remembrance organised by the Central Board of Jewish Communities in Greece (KISE) in conjunction Jewish people originally from  Zakynthos (Zante). The event was the unveiling of two inscribed marble plaques and it took place at the island's Jewish Cemetery on 13th July 2014.

One of the plaques is dedicated to the seventy or so Zakynthian Jews who were living on Kerkyra (Corfu) and in Chania (on Crete) at the time of the occupation; a fact which resulted in their being among the six million victims of the Holocaust. It is also an indirect reference to the rescue of 275 Jews of Zakynthos from German savagery, made possible by the solidarity of other residents of Zakynthos with Metropolitan Bishop Chrysostome and Mayor Loukas Karrer at the helm − the only rescue of its kind in the whole of occupied Europe.

The inscription was unveiled by the President of the Central Board of Jewish Communities in Greece, Mr Benjamin Albalas. There followed a ceremonial lighting of two candles by Mr Ermando Tsezana and Mr Ertsel Matsa, a short memorial service led by the Rabbi Chaim Tal, and addresses by Metropolitan of Dodoni Chrysostomos (formerly of Zakynthos), deputy regional governor of the Ionian Islands (Zakynthos) Mr Dionysios Mylonas, Mayor of Zakynthos Mr Stelios Bozikis, President of KISE Mr Benjamin Albalas, Mr Iakov Dalmedego representing Zakynthian Jews living in Israel, Mrs Eleni Karrer-Kriezi daughter of Mayor Loukas Karrer of German occupied Zakynthos, and Mrs Mimika Tsezana-Haiman.

Mr Moisis Mordo then gave a talk on the Holocaust of the Jews of Kerkyra and Mrs Viki Kosti-Taraboulous spoke about the loss of the Jews of Crete. Wreaths were then laid and a minute's silence was observed in memory of the victims of the Holocaust.

The other inscribed marble plaque within the confines of the historical Jewish cemetery is dedicated to Moisis Fortes, the Jewish soldier of Zakynthos who lost his life heroically in action on the Greek-Albanian front on 23rd December 1940 when the Greek Army was making its victorious advance into Albanian held territory. He was actually killed during the battle on Hill 1220, east of Kleisoura. The tribute to Moisis Fortes was simultaneously a tribute to all those who fell in the Greek-Italian War of 1940–1941.

The plaque inscribed to the memory of Moisis Fortes was unveiled by his daughter, Mrs Glykeri Fortes-Gani, who had travelled from Israel with her family. 

There followed a reading of the Kaddish by Mr Samuel Gani, a talk by Mrs Nouli Tsezana on the role played by Greek Jews in their country's war operations, and a talk by Mrs Glykeri Fortes-Gani. Moisis Fortes' grandson then laid a wreath and a minute's silence was observed in his memory and the memory of all Jews who lost their lives on the Albanian Front.

The island's incumbent local governing body and its local governing body elect attended the event, as did Metropolitan Chrysostomos of Dodoni, representatives of the local community, representatives of KISE and Jewish organisations and communities from all over Greece, as well as Zakynthian Jews from Greece and from abroad.



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