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Preserving the Jewish Heritage in Greece by Elias V. Messinas
Conserving the Jewish Heritage in Greece
Jewish heritage projects in progress in Greece
Become a partner in the preservation of the Jewish monuments of Greece
Editorial by Elias V. Messinas
For those of us involved in the study, research, preservation, documentation, and dissemination of knowledge on the Jewish monuments of Greece, this newsletter, will certainly feel like an inevitable consequence of efforts that date back to as early as the late 1980s. Back in the 1980s, Nikolas Stavroulakis, as the founder and then director to the newly established Jewish Museum of Greece, undertook the first, and most important survey of Greek Jewish monuments. This documentation was published partially in his book Jewish Sites and Synagogues of Greece published by Talos press in 1992, in articles in the newsletters of the Jewish Museum of Greece, and forms a large part of the important archival material of the Jewish Museum of Greece, including photographs and slides of recently-demolished Jewish sites, by photographer Timothy deVinney.
In 1997, the year Thessaloniki (or Salonika) was celebrating as the Cultural Capital of Europe, an unprecedented volume of activity focusing on Jewish issues, Jewish history, and Jewish monuments, took place. New publications, such as The Synagogues of Salonika and Veroia by Gavrielides Press, cultural events at the partially restored Jewish quarter of, near-by, Veroia, exhibitions on the synagogues of Thessaloniki, conferences and presentations, and much more. At the center of all this activity the inauguration of the Thessaloniki Holocaust victims monument, by the sculptor the late Prof. Nandor Glid.
That exciting year, was followed by more efforts to maintain interest in the Greek Jewish cultural heritage, whether in efforts undertaken in New York, in Rhodes, in Hania (Crete), in Halkis, in Ioannina, or in Veroia (northern Greece). We feel that this dynamic presence and activity around the Greek Jewish heritage should be maintained, and the interest raised should be followed up by concrete projects, efforts and preservation plans for the future.
This newsletter is not an effort to compete or overshadow other publications or newsletters, published in Greece or abroad, dealing with Jewish monuments in general, covering Greece in particular. On the contrary. This newsletter sees itself as an organizing force, a catalyst, a coordinator, and concentrator of many efforts that are currently under way, or are being planned for the future, and wishes to give them all a voice (="kol" in Hebrew). Also to share with other people and institutions interested in these efforts knowledge and expertise. These efforts may include the inauguration of a photographic museum or exhibition, the documentation of Jewish art, the conservation of a synagogue, or research on Greek Jewish monuments. Our purpose is to encourage these efforts, to assist and support them, and to encourage more similar efforts, in order to ensure that, despite all odds, Greek Jewish heritage will be preserved. It must be preserved, and can be preserved.
Before we close, we owe our readers an explanation on the name chosen for this newsletter: Kol haKEHILA. "Kol" means "voice" in Hebrew. "haKEHILA" means "the community" or "the synagogue". Therefore, "voice of the community" or "voice of the synagogue". But, there is an additional meaning in this name: "kol" means also "all" in Hebrew. In this case, the name of the newsletter "all the community" refers to the people of a special community who share the vision of preserving the Greek Jewish heritage, a heritage unique in the world, combining Romaniot, Sephardi, and Ashkenazi traditions, with roots lost in antiquity.
The readers, whether individuals, families, companies, institutions, communities, or synagogue boards, are welcome to participate in this effort. Your support, ideas, feedback, input, information, time and enthusiasm, are welcome and vital for the maintenance and growth of this effort.
We hope to invite you soon to our internet site, dedicated to the preservation of the Jewish monuments of Greece.