Sunday, February 23, 2014
Thursday, December 27, 2012
Counting Down From Destruction and Looking Forward to Redemption; On an Interesting Custom of Romaniot (and many Sephardim too).
(photo and description of Ketubah graciously provided by Mary Raz from the "Greek Jews" group on Facebook).
...Yet when Ben-Yehuda began publishing his weekly Hebrew newspaper Hatsvi in
Jerusalemin the autumn of 1884, the date on its first issue was, “Friday, 5 Heshvan, 1816 years since the destruction of the Temple, 5645.” (There was no Gregorian date at all.) This formula was followed in the first seven issues of Hatsvi, after which “5645” was dropped. From then on, the only year on the masthead referred to the destruction of the Second Temple, which Ben-Yehuda chose to date to the beginning of the Romans’ siege of Jerusalemin 68 C.E. rather than to their final victory in 70. In everything else that he published, including his monumental 16-volume dictionary, he followed the same system.
Ben-Yehuda was an ardently nationalistic Zionist and an equally ardently anti-religious secularist, and his method of dating served both ideologies, replacing a chronology that started with God’s creation of the world with one that started with the loss of Jewish political independence in antiquity. And yet, just as he was always looking for justifications in Hebrew sources for his many linguistic innovations, so was his dating rooted in the past. Counting the years from the destruction of the
Templewas actually quite common among Jews in the early centuries of the Christian era and was a system used in many ancient Hebrew documents and contracts. Although its year zero was eventually replaced by that of Creation, traces of it can still be found in Sephardic and Yemenite prayer books. Thus, for example, in some Sephardic liturgies for the fast day of the Ninth of Av, the day of mourning for the Temple, there is the passage: “Alas for the destruction of the Temple! Alas for the burning of the Torah! Alas for the murder of righteous Jews! Alas for the sorrow of the Messiah [in having his coming delayed]! Today is ______ number of years since the destruction of our holy shrine.”
Monday, December 24, 2012
CitationSteven Bowman. " Romaniots (Bene Romania)." Encyclopedia of Jews in the Islamic World. Executive Editor Norman A. Stillman. Brill Online , 2012. Reference. National Library of Israel. 24 December 2012
Wednesday, April 4, 2012
The Romaniote Jews of Greece always maintained a special relationship with the holiday of Passover. As a result they took on the names that are associated with the holiday, as both personal names and surnames. Names like Pessah, Matza (a famous Greek-Jewish family in Israel), and Hametz (I had the privilege of meeting a young Romaniote Rabbinical student with this surname, Tzvi Hametz, last year). Tzvi also mentioned to me that he knew of a Greek-Jewish family who took on the amusing surname of 'kol hamira'. This Aramaic prayer כל חמירא וחמיעא is recited during the evening preceding the 14th of Nissan, and renders all the left-over unleavened bread in one's property null and void. It also recited by many on the day of the 14th, while burning the left-over hametz. The formula and translation follows (courtesy of Jewish in St. Louis) :
Kol chamira va-chami’ha d’ika vir’shuti, d’la chamitei u’d’la viartei u’d’la yadana lei livteil v’lehevei hefker k’afrah d’ar’ah.
All manner of leaven which is in my possession, that I have not seen or removed, shall be annulled and considered as the dust of the earth.
Kol chamira va-chami’a d’ika virshuti, da-chazitei u’d’la chazitei d’chamitei u’d’la chamitei, d’viartei u’d’la viartei livteil v’lehevei hefker k’afra d’ar’ah.
All chametz in my possession, whether I have seen it or not, whether I have removed it or not, is hereby nullified and owner-less, as the dust of the earth.
A little online searching brought me to a webpage that was created by a member of this mentioned family (spelled there 'colchamiro').
According to one version of the family story, this is how the name came into being:
The story we always tell is that our ancestor was a rag merchant in Greece and was very meticulous about picking good scraps; that he would look through the goods as carefully as one looks for leaven on Passover. The prayer that one says after locating all leaven in the house is called "Kal Chamira" and so his friends and associates said he was so picky that he might as well say "Kal Chamira" over his rag finds. Supposedly he was known by this name in Greece and gave it when arriving at Ellis Island, and that the immigration officials invented their own spelling.See more about this remarkable family here
Professor Rae Dalven who wrote a book on the Ioannina Romaniotes entitled The Jews of Ioannina, writes:
"My mother's maiden name was Kalchamira (spelled Colchamiro in the United States). The family explanation is that her father, a cloth merchant, used to examine material as closely as if he were searching for leaven (hametz). This was associated with the statement made the night before the eve of Passover, beginning KAL HAMIRA DE IKA BIRSHT (May all leaven in my possession)."
By a stroke of incredible coincidence, an Israeli journalist researched this very same same topic, at the same time as I did. His article appears here (in Hebrew).
Sunday, January 17, 2010
He is a thin man. His wine-red cardigan is a little too big, and his legs are like matchsticks in his brown pants. Yitzhak Ganon takes care of himself. He's freshly shaven, his white mustache neatly trimmed. The 85-year-old sits on a gray sofa, with a cushion supporting his back. He is too weak to stand by himself, but he still greets a guest in German: "Guten Tag."
A month ago he came back from his morning walk and lay down. "Are you sick, Papa?" Iris asked. "No, just a little tired," Yitzhak Ganon answered, before going to sleep. But after a few hours he was still tired. "I don't need a doctor," he told his daughter.
The next morning things were even worse. Ganon's wife and daughter called a doctor, who diagnosed a viral infection and told him to go to the hospital. Ganon resisted, but finally realized his life was in danger. At some point he stopped fighting the doctor's orders.
'Just One Kidney'
His family brought him to the hospital in his home town of Petach Tikva near Tel Aviv. He had hardly been admitted when he lost consciousness. Heart attack, the doctor said. The blood clots were cleared with the help of tiny balloons, and the doctors put five stents in him. "We thought he wouldn't survive the operation," said Eli Lev, the doctor. "Especially since he had just one kidney."
When Yitzhak Ganon came to, he told the doctors where he lost the other kidney -- and why he had avoided doctors for 65 years. A reporter from the Israeli paper Maariv heard about the story. And now, weeks after the operation, Ganon is ready to tell his story to a German reporter for the first time.
He stretches his back and looks at a photo on the living room wall. It shows the Acropolis in Athens. "I come from Arta, a small city in northern Greece. It happened on Saturday, March 25, 1944. We had just lit the candles to celebrate the Sabbath when an SS officer and a Greek policeman burst into the house. They told us we should get ourselves ready for a big trip."
The 85-year-old slides the sleeve of his shirt up and uncovers his left forearm. The number 182558 is tattooed there in dark-blue ink.
The transport to Auschwitz took two weeks. His sick father died on the journey. Upon arrival, they had to strip and submit to an inspection. Ganon's mother and five siblings were then sent to the gas chambers.
Yitzhak Ganon was taken to the Auschwitz-Birkenau hospital, where Josef Mengele, the so-called "Angel of Death," conducted grisly experiments on Jewish prisoners.
Ganon had to lie down on a table and was tied down. Without any anesthetics, Mengele cut him open and removed his kidney. "I saw the kidney pulsing in his hand and cried like a crazy man," Ganon says. "I screamed the 'Shema Yisrael.' I begged for death, to stop the suffering."
After the "operation," he had to work in the Auschwitz sewing room without painkillers. Among other things, he had to clean bloody medical instruments. Once, he had to spend the whole night in a bath of ice-cold water because Mengele wanted to "test" his lung function. Altogether, Ganon spent six and a half months in the concentration camp's hospital.
When they had no more use for him, the Nazis sent him to the gas chamber. He survived only by chance: The gas chamber held only 200 people. Ganon was number 201.
On January 27, 1945, Auschwitz was liberated by Soviet troops. Yitzhak Ganon made it back to Greece and found his surviving siblings -- a brother and a sister -- and emigrated to Israel in 1949. He got married. And he swore never to go to a doctor again. "Whenever he was sick, even when it was really bad," his wife Ahuva says, "he told me it was just fatigue."
But now Ganon is happy he finally went to the hospital after his heart attack. One week later, he had another heart attack, and was given a pacemaker. "If the doctors hadn't been there," he says, smiling for the first time, "I would be dead now." Yitzhak Ganon has survived, again.
Source: Der Spiegel
Marcia Haddad Ikonomopoulos
|Subject:||Christians citizens demonstrate in support of Jewish cemetery in Ioann ina|
Normally I would wait for our monthly e-newsletter to pass on recent news from Greece, but some news deserves to be passed on immediately, especially when it is such good news. Too often, negativity makes the front page. In recent years, anti-Semitism is all too prevalent. What then can be more emotionally rewarding than to pass on the news of a recent mass demonstration against anti-Semitism? Where did this demonstration take place? In Ioannina! It was organized by the Christian citizens of the city and was heralded as a “a human chain against racism.” The cemetery was surrounded by the citizens of Ioannina to show their support for the Jewish community of the city and to publically show their outrage at recent desecrations of Jewish tombstones. In addition, a public exhibition was held, highlighting the ancient Jewish presence in the city and the importance of the Jewish cemetery as a monument to the long Jewish presence in Ioannina. The committee that organized the public display of support made the following statement: “The Jewish cemetery is not only the religious space of the Jewish Community but, also, a cultural monument of our city, the protection of which, like other historical monuments of our city, is the duty of every citizen.” Let us all applaud the good citizens of Ioannina who organized and took part in this historic event. Photos of the event can be found in the attachments.
Marcia Haddad Ikonomopoulos
Kehila Kedosha Janina
280 Broome Street
NYC, NY 10002
- Joels W.
- I am an independent research historian and genealogist and currently working on my first book that will explore the Sephardic origin of many Eastern European Jews. I hope to correspond on this blog with like minded individuals and learn more about the subjects being discussed as well as impart some of my own knowledge to others. Please be considerate and give proper credits when reproducing anything from this site. Thank you.