LOS ANGELES – The Consulate General of Greece in Los Angeles, the UCLA Stavros Niarchos Foundation Center for the Study of Hellenic Culture, and Los Angeles Greek Film Festival announce a ten-day virtual event, Heritage and Memory: A Focus on Jewish Greece, to be held January 27-February 6 in honor of Greece’s upcoming Presidency of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA). On March 1, Greece will assume the Presidency of this intergovernmental organization, which unites governments and experts to promote, advance and shape Holocaust education, research and remembrance.
Her Excellency Alexandra Papadopoulou, Ambassador of Greece to the United States, will offer welcome remarks during the event, as will Dr. Efstathios Lianos-Liantis, Special Envoy of the Greek Ministry of Foreign Affairs for Combating Anti-Semitism and Safeguarding the Memory of the Holocaust and Head of the Greek Delegation to the IHRA. The event is being held under the auspices of the Greek Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Ambassador Papadopoulou noted: “It is an honor for Greece to assume the Presidency of the IHRA on March 1 of this year. This ten-day event of interesting presentations and films will provide important information about the history of Greece’s Jewish community and its darkest hour. I am confident that the viewers will greatly benefit from understanding our past and the need to reaffirm our relentless commitment to be vocal and take action so that people never forget and that these horrors are never repeated.” Partners include the Panepirotic Federation of America and the UCLA Alan D. Leve Center for Jewish Studies. The event is being supported by the philanthropists Aliki Perroti and Seth Frank.
Four prestigious speakers will present views of Greece’s Romaniote and Sephardic communities to an international audience. The Honorable Moses Elisaf, Mayor of Ioannina, and Marcia Haddad Ikonomopoulos, Museum Director of Kehila Kedosha Janina, the Romaniote synagogue on New York’s Lower East Side, will discuss the history of the Romaniotes, the oldest Jewish community in Europe. The historians Leon Saltiel and Rena Molcho will look at the Jewish cemetery of Thessaloniki, which was destroyed during World War II, and the incorporation of the Holocaust into the Greek collective memory. The award-winning author Rika Benveniste will present her book, Luna: An Essay in Historical Biography, at an open meeting of a Modern Greek Book Club. Responding to the richness of program, Dr. Sharon Gerstel, Director of the UCLA SNF Center, noted: “This is a critical time to reflect on the history of Greece’s Jewish communities, to reclaim the voices of those who can no longer tell their stories, and to chart a future in which anti-Semitism is no longer a threat to society.” Registration links for individual events can be found at: https://hellenic.ucla.edu/events/.
Free screenings for eleven films and one extended preview include the feature-length works Cloudy Sunday; The Queen of Rebetiko: My Sweet Canary; and Magic Men, as well as documentaries that look at the Jewish communities of Thessaloniki, Ioannina, Kastoria, Zakynthos, and Rhodes. Several films trace the experience of Jews who were sheltered by Christian Greeks during the Nazi Occupation. The majority of films will be available worldwide for online viewing throughout the entire ten days of the event.
“Los Angeles Greek Film Festival has always been present in supporting filmmakers and films that make a difference in art and in life as well. We are very happy to participate by providing the platform, expertise and infrastructure for an event that brings people from various countries together and further spreads the knowledge and history of Greece’s Jewish communities and heritage,” stated Aris Katopodis, Artistic Director of Los Angeles Greek Film Festival. Free tickets for film screenings can be found at: https://heritage.eventive.org/films.