Remembering Greek Jews Who Perished

Kehila Kedosha Janina at 280 Broome St. (Photo by Karen Pennar for Voices of NY)

At the beginning of World War II, there were 2,000 Greek Jews living in Ioannina in northwestern Greece. During the war, 1,960 were deported, and 1,850 perished in the Nazi death camps. Each year, to remember their deaths during the Holocaust, the Romaniote synagogue Kehila Kedosha Janina (the Holy Community of Janina) at 280 Broome St. on the Lower East Side holds a candle-lighting ceremony.

At this year’s celebration on April 23, as she has in previous years, Holocaust survivor and Ioannina native Rebecca Yomtov Hauser, 95, addressed the attendees, reports the National Herald, but with a difference: in 2016, Hauser published her memoir: “My Simple Life in Greece, Destroyed by the Holocaust.”

Hauser lost her parents and three brothers during the Holocaust (a fourth sibling died before the war). Relatives in the U.S. brought Hauser here after the war.

The event was an emotional experience for those present. Among those in attendance were Kehila Kedosha Janina Museum Director Marcia Ikonomopoulos and Consul of Greece in New York Manos Koubarakis.

Responding to a question from Ikonomopoulos, Rebecca said, “In the beginning I survived, there was a hope that my three brothers would survive. When I came by here [in the United States], I was sorry that I survived but with the help of everyone around I was able to have a wonderful family in America, that they opened their arms and their hearts, to me and I more or less realized that as I am alive, I will stay alive.”

She observed, “The pain of the Holocaust is a pain which is hidden, but which never goes away.”

For more about Hauser and the Kehila Kedosha Janina congregation, which was first organized in New York in 1906, go to The National Herald.

One Comment

  1. Visited this important historic Synagogue two times. I’m was moved by display of photographs,showing the members and their families.

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