Social services for Nazi victims have been supported by a grant from the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany.
Funds have been provided by the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany for the Emergency Assistance Program for Nazi Victims at the direction of the United States District Court supervising the lawsuit In RE: Holocaust Victim Assets Litigation (Swiss Banks).

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KIS - English Version
Monday, 16 November 2020 13:03
The Synagogue of Larissa, symbolically named "Etz Hayim" (The Tree of Life), which made the life of Jewish people of this city “blossom”, is today a ruin at risk of collapse. 

The beautiful, simple, imposing building, with the enormous historical and cultural value, severely damaged by its 160 years of life was delivered in October 2019 to the hands of experts, who studied its static adequacy in order to start the support works. The findings were disappointing because, apart from the visible damages, numerous other invisible problems arose, which rendered the building inadequate and dangerous. Everything was removed from the Synagogue which has been temporarily supported, expecting the funding to continue the restoration works recommended by the team of experienced engineers.

Since the Synagogue has been closed for more than a year, the Rabbi, the Board and the members of the Community make every possible effort to keep the religious life and traditions alive: services are performed at the small Community Center, Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur were celebrated under a tent at the school yard, weddings and other events are hosted in hotel halls... the Jews of Larissa have been extremely inventive until their beloved  Synagogue becomes again the center where the heart of Jewish life beats…

The restoration of the "Etz Hayim" Synagogue is linked to the very effort of the historical Jewish Community of Larissa to continue to exist. However, it is a project of huge costs that the Community of Larissa is unable to afford. For this reason, with the support of the Central Board of Jewish Communities in Greece, it turns for help to the Greek and global Jewish world, to organizations and individuals.

We address to you, to all our fellow Jews in Greece and abroad, to you who were born in Larissa and have linked the “Ka-al” to your most beautiful memories, to you who learned to love it through stories of your mates and  parents, to you who visited our Synagogue and were touched by its beauty and history, to you who want to contribute to the preserving the Jewish religious and cultural heritage in our city. We appeal to you for financial assistance for the restoration of our Synagogue, the pillar of our Jewish life.

Monday, 16 November 2020 10:30

By Dimitris Mitsopolous*

Six years ago, after graduating from high school, I was admitted to the Department of History and Archaeology at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki in Greece. My childhood dream to become a historian had been fulfilled. I had planned to study the history of Greece’s European integration and the historical origins of the Greek economic crisis. But two events led to a major shift in my focus.

For my birthday, during the first year of my studies, I received an important work of history as a gift: Salonica, City of Ghosts: Christians, Muslims and Jews written by Columbia University professor Mark Mazower, which enabled me to delve into the history of my hometown, Thessaloniki — or Salonica, as it was often known by the city’s Jewish community. The book opened me to the city’s multicultural past, and Salonica’s complex relationship with the past and present. I discovered for the first time the city’s colorful past, and the fact that its very makeup was totally different a century ago.

Monday, 16 November 2020 09:16

By Philip Chrysopoulos, November 10th, 2020

Pfizer’s brand-new Covid-19 vaccine, which has 90 percent effectiveness, has proven to be the biggest, most optimistic news by far in a year of mostly jaw-droppingly awful news. The much-anticipated discovery brought to the limelight the name of the pharmaceutical company’s Chairman and CEO, Albert Bourla.

Dr. Bourla is a Thessaloniki native who left Greece at the age of 34 to pursue a career in the pharmaceuticals industry. Born in the northern Greece city on October 21, 1961, he is part of the long history of the Sephardic Jews of Thessaloniki.

The Bourla family arrived in Thessaloniki from Spain about six centuries ago. As jewelers, they created and sold diamonds, jewelry and watches throughout the Balkans, and built two important buildings in the city, one of which is the Moroccan Mansion. Albert Bourla is a descendant of the few survivors of the Jewish community of the city which was almost completely wiped out by the Nazis during World War II.

Monday, 16 November 2020 09:57
In September 2013, an Australian team travelled to Greece to shoot a documentary focusing on the Greek Jews – their rich history, the impact of the Holocaust on them as well as their present-day existence. The documentary is based on an original screenplay written by Carol Gordon who also directed the film together with Natalie Cunningham. “Following Shira’s Journey: A Greek Jewish Odyssey” premiered at the Delphi Bank 21st Greek Film Festival in Melbourne on October 26, 2014 and it has been screened at Film festivals worldwide since then. An integral part of this project are the photos captured by Emmanuel Santos; they were featured in a major exhibition at the Jewish Museum of Australia in Melbourne in 2017.

Carol Gordon answered some questions for the Against Antisemitism blog about this remarkable project.

Your multi-faceted project is based on intense research. How did you first become interested in Greek Jewish Communities?

I grew up in South Africa in a traditional Jewish household. I knew about the Greek Jews from Rhodos because many of them came to South Africa before the war. I also knew vaguely about Jews in Thessaloniki because I had read a book that mentioned the community. South Africa was also home to a very large Greek Orthodox community so we had many Greek friends and they often told me information about the Jews of Greece that I’d never heard of before. After school I travelled to Greece and felt a very strong connection there, resulting in me going back a few times. With each trip I learned more about the many Greek Jewish communities that had existed there. I became determined to find out as much as I could and to document this very unknown history – particularly the devastating effect of the Holocaust on the Greek Jewish communities. It is only in the past ten years that much more information has come out into the public domain. It took me around thirty years of researching until I felt I had enough to write the screenplay and do the documentary.

Thursday, 12 November 2020 14:31

The European Jewish Congress would like to invite you and your community to take part in the Kaddish Initiative – For Global Jewish Solidarity and Unity.

In 2014, the State of Israel passed a law to officially make November 30th a Day to Commemorate the Departure and Expulsion of Jews from Arab Countries and Iran, a date which is now marked by Jewish communities worldwide.

Over the last few years, prominent members of Jewish communities in Europe and North America have been calling for Kaddish and an Azkara to be recited in communities and synagogues across the world in remembrance of Jews buried in inaccessible cemeteries in Arab countries.

This year, Jewish organisations, communities and other Jewish institutions of all backgrounds are called to say these prayers on the closest Shabbat to the Day of Commemoration which is Saturday, 28th November, in remembrance and in solidarity with the Jews from the Middle East and North Africa who cannot say them in the presence of their departed family members, since many of the cemeteries remain inaccessible.

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