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General News

Greek Heritage Society of Southern California’s 35th (+2) Anniversary

LOS ANGELES – The Greek Heritage Society of Southern California (GHS) celebrated their 35th+2 anniversary on January 8 at Loyola Marymount University. GHS President Bessie Karras-Lazaris shared the following news release about the event which included the historic photography exhibit, The Journey of the Greeks of Southern California:

Due to the pandemic, the organization’s in-person 35th anniversary celebration was delayed, but they were back and ready to share with the community the important work they have been doing through the years. Founded in 1985, GHS is a non-political, non-profit California corporation established in association with the Basil P. Caloyeras Modern Greek Studies Center at Loyola Marymount University for educational and literacy purposes.

At the anniversary event, guests had the opportunity to explore the journey of the Greeks of Southern California through a very rich collection of historical photos. Starting with the early 1900s through today, the photos showed the story of the Greek community, their challenges, and their accomplishments through the extensive exhibit. The California Greeks, true adventurers, not only left their homeland to cross the ocean to begin a new life, but they also travelled across the country like true pioneers to establish new communities carrying with them their traditions and heritage.

Consul General of Greece in Los Angeles Ioannis Stamatekos. (Photo by Allen Altchech Photography)

The entire evening was filled with positive energy, beginning with a Mediterranean-style reception, where guests mingled with old and new friends and participated in an exciting silent auction, which offered items unique to the Greek community, such as opportunities to attend Greek concerts, plays, operas, film festivals, or learn Greek online.

Opening remarks to the historic photo exhibit were made by Consul General of Greece in Los Angeles Ioannis Stamatekos, honorary Consul General of Cyprus Andreas Kyprianidis in Los Angeles, GHS founder Zoye Fidler, and GHS President Bessie Karras-Lazaris. To start the New Year off with good luck, GHS celebrated with the Greek tradition of cutting the Vasilopita. In addition to the impressive main historical exhibit with over 150 photos of three generations of Greek-Americans, families, businesses and social and cultural events through the decades, the event also offered an additional exhibit of a collection of photos of the more than 24 Greek Orthodox churches in Southern California, and a digital photo exhibit.

The purpose of the event was to help support the mission of the Greek Heritage Society and future projects. Some of the goals from the inception of the organization have been to showcase the many achievements of the Greek community through a number of projects and events. One major accomplishment has been the production of three award-winning GHS documentaries, narrated by Olympia Dukakis: The Pioneers 1900-1942; The Promise of Tomorrow 1940-1960; and The New Greek Americans 1960-2018. The documentaries on DVD are available for purchase online: https://bit.ly/3ZD0E9U.

GHS President Bessie Karras-Lazaris about to cut the Vasilopita and the anniversary cake. (Photo by Allen Altchech Photography)

The next major goal for 2023 is an oral history project, the creation of a digital library where the hundreds of interviews GHS has collected through the years, as well as historical photos and documents that represent three generations of our Greek community, can be housed and shared. This Greek-American archive and resource center will be used to stimulate and maintain interest in Greek culture, literature, and heritage, and promote cross-cultural studies.
More information about GHS is available online: https://www.greekheritagesociety.org/

The GHS Anniversary Event Committee, left to right: Dr. James Demetriou of the GHS Founder Team, GHS documentaries 2 and 3 Producer Antonia Lianos, Sofia Lynch of GHS, LMU Caloyeras Center for Modern Greek Studies Director Christina Bogdanou, GHS President and Production/Translation of the documentary trilogy Bessie Karras-Lazaris, Stefanie Cicatiello of GHS, documentary trilogy writer/director Anna Gianniotis, documentary 3 Associate Producer Demetra Korris, and American Hellenic Council Board member Spiridon Lazaris. (Photo by Allen Altchech Photography)
Honorary Consul General of Cyprus in Los Angeles Andreas Kyprianidis. (Photo by Allen Altchech Photography)
Left to right: Zoye Fidler, a Founder of the Greek Heritage Society of Southern California, and the organization’s President Bessie Karras-Lazaris. (Photo by Allen Altchech Photography)

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