Sunday, November 4, 2007

Greek Romaniote Jews in NY. A visit to a rare Jewish community







This is a spot that I have long wanted to visit but never had a chance to do so. Today I had the opportunity to personally meet with Marcia Hadad Ikonomopoulous- the director of the Kehila Kedosha Janina Synagogue and Museum- who was gracious enough to give me a private tour of the place as well as provide me with some of her great written publications on the history of the community. The Janina community is truly a fascinating one. Many people aren't aware of its existence- how its traditions differ from both the Ashkenazic as well as the Sephardic one.

I also met and chatted with a long-time member of the Synagogue, a dignified gentleman by the name of Ilias Hadjis who arrived in the USA in 1955. Mr. Hadjis, was born in Athens in 1937, and spent the occupation hiding in the Pilion Mountains and Athens. Here Mr. Hadjis speaks about the history of the Synagogue and its members:



video

Here Mr. Hadjis talks about how his family survived the Holocaust-which took a horrific toll upon Greek Jewry. He first asked me if I had several hours to spare, but we somehow managed to condense it into several minutes:


video
The Synagogue is currently undergoing restoration. A grant from the city is enabling a moderate scale expansion and renovation. In the plans are: a multimedia room with videos and computers that would tell the history of the community, a large library and a cafe. All in all, it was a charming and pleasant visit, I strongly urge everyone to hop over for a visit, you won't be sorry.

6 comments:

Steg (dos iz nit der šteg) said...

wow.

i've been wanting to visit KKY for a while now. did you happen to get any info on where it might be possible to find a Romaniote siddur? i emailed either someone at KKY or the Romaniote shul in Israel a few years ago and they said that they all use Sephardic siddurim now. But that doesn't mean that Romaniote ones don't exist somewhere...

Ha-historion said...

Yes, Mrs. Hadad told me that as well (that Sephardic siddurim are used in the Romaniote community). I don't know where one can find a Romaniote one.

Torah HomeGirl said...
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Anonymous said...

so interesting. i'm taking a class actually about this specifically: Greek Jewry in WWII. If you're interested in a more detailed version about the life and times of someone who had lived in Greece during the turn of the 20th centuey you gotta read Farewell to Salonica, by Leon Sciaky

Torah HomeGirl said...
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Torah HomeGirl said...
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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, entitled EASTERN EUROPEAN JEWS IN SEARCH OF IBERIAN ROOTS. 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.