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Life in Greece with a Jewish twist

Banality of evil

Yom Hashoa, Remembrance Day for the Holocaust. In Greece, it was commemorated last Sunday in the Jewish cemetery of Nikaia, with speeches and the laying of wreaths. At the same time, a silent demonstration took place to request the criminalization of Holocaust denial in Greece and protest the Justice decision finding holocaust-denier Plevris, (author of “Jews: all the truth”, in which he who exposes his Nazi views) innocent of inciting racial hatred.

 I found Mr. Sakis Leon’s speech especially meaningful: he touched upon all the burning matters of today: Holocaust denial, rising anti-Semitism, threat from Iran…  In clear words, he brought out the uniqueness of the Holocaust, the fact that the entire state apparel was involved in the genocide, from the engineers building the crematoriums to the train drivers and the postal employees: somehow regular people, not particularly evil or psychopaths participated in the extermination of 6 million Jewish men, women and children. This became possible because of the propaganda demonizing Jews, slowly convincing people of a Jewish world conspiracy and at the same time turning Jews into sub-humans, closer to harmful insects than to people created in the image of G-d.

mayor carrer.jpgMr. Leon mentioned the unfortunately not enough people who did save the Jews during those tragic times. An amazing case happened in the island of Zakinthos: when the Germans asked the authorities for a list of the Jews of the island, they received a list with only 2 names: Mayor Carrer and Bishop Chrysostomos. In parallel, the islanders helped the Jews escape and hide in the mountain villages, thus saving all 275 Jews of Zakinthos. The courage of bishop christostomos.jpgMayor Carrer and Bishop Chrystostomos, as well as the cooperation of the locals, who did not betray their Jewish compatriots, was exemplary. Alas, it was also quite unique. Most people preferred to look in the other direction while Jews were being arrested and deported, not even talking about those who downright cooperated with the Nazis.  

As said Edmund Burke: “All that is necessary for evil to succeed is that good men do nothing” .

In today’s Greece, where a party leader and member of the Parliament writes that “Jews smell blood”, where Justice found self proclaimed "Nazi, fascist, racist, anti-democrat, anti-Semite” Plevris non-guilty, where it becomes more and more accepted to demonize Israel and Jews, to believe in and propagate conspiracy theories, Mr. Leon clarified once more what the message of “never again” means: more vigilance, more education, more tolerance.

Pesach and Easter

When you leave your blog for a while, it gets more and more difficult to get back to it.

Oh, I have plenty of good excuses…. But I’m not sure you’re interested J

So how was Pesach in a few words? A lot of work, a lot of meaning, a lot of satisfaction. Inspiring community gatherings as well as happy family moments… The first Seder took place in the Novotel, with an interesting mix of local people of the Greek Jewish community and of travelers from all over the world. We read the Haggada in English, Greek, Ladino and… oh, Hebrew!  The second Seder was at home with a few other families in a more intimate setting. Both were nice and completed each other.

We also organized Sedarim in Rhodes and Crete for the many travelers, mainly Israelis, visiting these islands. Volunteering young rabbis who came especially from Israel and the States hosted a total of 550 people for very happy and exciting celebrations.

Right after Pesach, came the Greek Easter, with the whole city emptying out as people go to celebrate in the village that their family originates from. You could cross traffic-less Athens in 20 minutes and actually find a parking place wherever you wish.

But alas, the next week, all the cars came back with a vengeance…

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Happy Passover!

Been very busy cleaning and scrubbing the house to make sure there is no chametz left…  Now, I’m peeling vegetables, grinding Maror and charoset, cooking and doing the last preparations for the seder…

I wish you all "Chag Kasher vesameach!", a happy and meaningful holiday of freedom. May we all experience true freedom, freedom of the body and freedom of the soul!


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