NEW YORK – With the shadow of anti-Semitism and intolerance looming as a perennial threat, in the midst of disturbing events that took place during 2022, the Consulate General of Greece in New York hosted the Annual Holocaust Remembrance Day of the Greek Jewry on January 19 at Hebrew Union College in Manhattan.
Thessaloniki-born award-winning artist, designer, educator, and School of Visual Arts BFA Illustration and Comics Departments Chair Viktor Koen captivated the attendees with an emotionally-charged and moving presentation, with members of his family from the Greek Jewish community as protagonists, who experienced the uprooting, the shadow of death, but also the physical and mental torture during the period of Nazi atrocities.
Following the stories and walking step by step through those “dark” days, which cost or forever marked the lives of millions of people, Koen reiterated that no one should forget or overlook what the Jews suffered – but also humanity in general – from Nazism.
A special tone was given by the reading of authentic letters between members of Jewish families who had been separated, with Esther Errera and Sivan Koen giving voice to the feelings of anguish, despair, but also the hope of those mothers who longed to hear back from their children and make sure they were still alive.
The talented singers Nektarios Antoniou and Eirini Tornesaki performed a musical program that included Jewish music but also Mikis Theodorakis’ composition ‘Asma Asmaton’ (Song of Songs) and ‘Smyrneiko Minore’ in collaboration with American Michael Brown, who added his own artistry to the program.
Consul General of Greece in New York Konstantinos Konstantinou, President of the American Friends of the Jewish Museum in Greece Solomon Asser, and Rabbi Diana S. Gerson also shared remarks at the event.
The coordination of the event was undertaken by Leon Levy.
Among those present were the new Permanent Representative of Greece to the United Nations Evangelos C. Sekeris, Consul General of the Republic of Cyprus in New York Michalis Firillas, Consul of Greece Dimitrios Papageorgiou, and Chancellor of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America Fr. Nektarios Papazafiropoulos.
Consul General Konstantinos Konstantinou told The National Herald that this is one of “the most emblematic events hosted by the Consulate General,” noting that Greece demonstrates that it “stands on the right side of the law and humanity.”
“Let’s not forget that in Greece approximately 85% of the Greek Jewish community was lost nationwide, that is to say, it practically disappeared. But, even here in New York, we have a very large community of Greek Jews,” said Konstantinou, making special reference to Solomon Asser and the presence of the youth.
“I am very happy, because today we see many young people here and, this is the main parameter of this event. In other words, let’s never forget and enable this message against intolerance, against Nazism and any totalitarian regime to be passed on to the next generations, so that there will never be anything similar again in the future,” concluded Konstantinou.