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Wednesday, 06 July 2016 08:44

On June 1, 2016 The American Friends of the Jewish Museum of Greece (AFJMG) and the Jewish Museum of Greece bestowed the DAMASKINOS AWARD to the Honorable Yiannis Boutaris, Mayor of Thessaloniki in a ceremony at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, in New York City.  The DAMASKINOS AWARD was established by AFJMG to recognize prominent public figures for actions and initiatives serving to build relationships of trust and cooperation, tolerance and respect between the Jews and Christians in USA and Greece. The first recipient of this prestigious award was Archbishop Demetrios, Geron of America, Primate of the Greek Orthodox Church in America. The second DAMASKINOS AWARD honored the Mayor of Thessaloniki - a city and a name that, more than many others resonates in Jewish hearts as Salonica, the  place ,for many centuries known as “ la madre  de Israel” and “Jerusalem of the Balkans”.

During his terms in office since 2011, Mayor Yiannis Boutaris has excelled not only as City Manager,  but also  as  a visionary  leader who, at  times of  deep crisis, national and international has endeavored and succeeded in bringing together people of different backgrounds, religions and ethnicities  under a banner of freedom, tolerance and respect. As the founder of the Macedonian Museum of Modern Art, Mayor Boutaris took the initiative of building a Museum and Educational Center at the Railway Station which served as the point of departure to Auschwitz- Birkenau for 50,000 Jews from war-time occupied Greece. In his remarks at the Award Ceremony, Mayor Boutaris emphasized the timely relevance of this historic project.

The event attracted a large receptive audience of more than two hundred people, both Christians and Jews. It prominently featured  His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios, Rabbi Dr. Aaron Panken, President of HUC-JIR, who welcomed  guests and participants on  behalf of the host institution;  Rabbi Dr. Martin A. Cohen, Spiritual Leader of AFJMG, Adolph  S. Ochs Professor of  History at HUC-JIR, Dr. Konstantinos Koutras, Consul-General of Greece  in New York, who spoke to the occasion, Ambassador Catherine Boura, Permanent Representative of Greece to  the United Nations, Mr. Makis Matsas, President of the Jewish Museum of Greece, Mr.  Solomon Asser, President of AFJMG, and Dr. Mimis Cohen MD who served as Master of Ceremonies.

[Source: The Jewish Museum of Greece]

Related articles:

- The National Herald, June 2, 2016

- Boutaris’ interview to Ron Kampeas, JTA July 5, 2016


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