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KIS PRESIDENT DAVID SALTIEL AWARDED WITH THE MEDAL OF THE GRAND COMMANDER OF THE ORDER OF THE PHOENIX Print E-mail
Thursday, 27 February 2020 12:44

In a sober ceremony, full of symbolism, held at the Presidential Palace on the 28th of February 2020, the President of the Hellenic Republic Professor Prokopios Pavlopoulos awarded the President of the Central Board of Jewish Communities in Greece, Mr. David Saltiel, with the medal of the Grand Commander of the Order of the Phoenix, one of the highest distinctions of the Hellenic Republic, “in recognition of all the work he realized”.

This prestigious medal is bestowed to personalities, Greek citizens or foreigners, who have helped raise Greece’s prestige internationally and have excelled in their field of practice or in public life.  In David Saltiel’s case, this outstanding honour reflects the Greek Jewry, its rich history and its  manifold activities.

Welcoming the President of the Central Board of the Jewish Communities in Greece among the personalities honoured with that distinction, President Pavlopoulos mentioned the rich work realized by Mr. Saltiel and his dynamic personality. Then the President handed him the medal together with the Presidential Decree.

During his response, the President of the Central Board of the Jewish Communities in Greece, extremely touched, thanked President Pavlopoulos not only for the great honour bestowed but also for the active support of the President of the Hellenic Republic in issues related to the Greek Jewry. Mr. Saltiel started his speech mentioning the symbolism of the Phoenix, reborn from its ashes, stressing that “this brings into our mind the rebirth of the Greek nation and the revival of the Greek Jewish Community after the Nazi conflagration. The will to start creating again –even after experiencing very hard times- is one of the fundamental characteristics between Greeks, Christians and Jews”. Mr. Saltiel concluded his speech by reciting the words of Niko Kazantzakis which led his life: “Your first duty toward society is feeling within yourself the presence of your ancestors. Your second task is to enliven their drive and continue their work. Your third task is to give your children the great order to surpass and better you”.

The ceremony was attended by the Executive Vice President and CEO of the European Jewish Congress Raya Kalenova, the Vice President of the Government Panagiotis Pikrammenos, the Israeli Ambassador to Greece Yossi Amrani, the Head of the Greek Representation to IHRA Dr. Efstathios Lianos Liantis, the Presdident of the Committee "Greece 2021", the MP Katerina Notopoulou, the President of the Jewish Museum of Greece Makis Matsas, the Secretary General of the Central Board of Jewish Communities in Greece Victor Eliezer and members of the Saltiel family.

 Gleaning David Saltiel’s tasks

Through his activities as President of the Central Board of the Jewish Communities in Greece, President of the Jewish Community of Thessaloniki and Vice-President of WJC, David Saltiel played an important role in promoting issues related with Greece in general and with Greek Jews more specifically; fighting especially against racism and anti-Semitism and helping the restructuring and prosperity of the Greek Jewish Communities; conserving the Memory of the Holocaust, not only as a duty owned to 6 million Jews who perished in the German concentration and extermination  camps  but as a permanent message against fascism and Nazism.

He has contributed – among other things – in realizing important tasks such as: the establishment of the Remembrance Day of the Greek Jewish Martyrs and Heroes of the Holocaust, the adherence of Greece to the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA), the repatriation and burial of the bones of the hero of the Greek-Italian war colonel Mordechai Frizis, the recognition of the expropriation of the old Jewish cemetery of Thessaloniki, the payment of compensations to the local community together with proving that the Jewish community of Thessaloniki paid a ransom in order to be exempted from forced labour before its deportation to Auschwitz, the erection of two monuments in the campus of the University of Thessaloniki, the reopening of the Chair of Jewish Studies, the further development of the bilateral relations between Greece and Israel, the Jewish Community of Thessaloniki funding for the building of the church of Saint Nicholas in New York after the terrorist attack of September 11, 2011, the participation of the Greek Holocaust survivors in the program of German compensations, the foundation of the Holocaust Museum of Greece in the area of the old Railway station of Thessaloniki, the restructure of the historical archives of the Jewish Community of Thessaloniki. His contribution on the strengthening of the relations between the Greek and Jewish diaspora, the protection and promotion of the Greek national issues into the International fora, the permanent and unconditional struggle against bigotry and Antisemitism are some of his tasks.

The contribution of the President of KIS and of the Jewish Community of Thessaloniki towards the development of the relations between Greece with other countries has been internationally recognized. As a matter of fact, David Saltiel has been awarded with the distinction of Cavaliere (2008) and Officer of the Order of the Star (2019) from Italy, with the Legion d’ Honneur (2011) from France, with the Cross of Merit (2017) from the Federal Republic of Germany  and with the Cross of the Order of Isabel la Católica (2018), from Spain.                 

 

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