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The Kassian Benevolent Society of America Commemorated the Kasos Holocaust

BRONX, NY – On June 12, the Kassian Benevolent Society of America, also known as the Kassian Brotherhood, commemorated the 198th anniversary of the Kasos Holocaust which took place in June 1824 during the Greek War of Independence.

The event was held at the Kassian Club in the Bronx and was coordinated by the long-time former president and active member of the organization, Michael (Mike) B. Zoulis, who welcomed the attendees. This was followed by the National Anthems of the U.S. and Greece and a moment of silence observed for the victims of the Kasos Holocaust.

The prayer was performed by Fr. Efthymios Kontargiris, who praised the initiative of the event’s organizers. At the same time, bouquets were presented to teachers Sophia Gergatsoulis, Joanna Kyriakou, and Evangelia Arapi-Aspras in recognition of their contributions. Also, Sophia Gergatsoulis and Sophia Kakomanolis recited the laments of Karpathos and Kasos.

Teacher Joanna Kyriakou and the younger generation of the Kassian Brotherhood, the children of various ages, dressed in the traditional costumes of Kasos. Photo: The National Herald / Despina Afentouli

The warmest applause were for the younger generation of the Kassian Brotherhood, the children of various ages, dressed in the traditional costumes of Kasos. In particular, under the guidance of Kyriakou, they presented dances from different parts of Greece, namely the tsirigotiko from Kythira, the pentozali from Crete, the hasapiko from Constantinople, and the Ikariotiko from Ikaria. Also, with the accompaniment of Georgios Perselis on lyra and Chrisovalantis Kasiotakis on laouto, they sang the lyrics of the traditional song of Kasos “Afousis” and then, they presented the Kasian dances zervo and sousta.

During his greeting, Kassian Brotherhood President Antonis Perselis said, regarding the day of remembrance of the Kasos Holocaust: “June 7 is a day of mourning. It is the day that our island was completely destroyed by the enemy… It is the day that about 2,000 Kassians lost their lives defending their homeland and hundreds of women and children were sold in the slave markets… We are obliged to continue the customs and traditions of our place, so that our children know our roots, our traditions and our history, that with so many struggles we managed to gain our freedom.”

The younger generation of the Kassian Brotherhood, the children dressed in traditional costumes of Kasos, performing Greek traditional dances. Photo: The National Herald / Despina Afentouli

Referring to the day of remembrance Zoulis said, among other things: “It is important in this large city where we live to preserve our ethnic identity that is, religion, language, customs and traditions, our ethnic heritage, and two important factors contribute to this- the family and the school.”

In he greetings at the event, Miss Greek Independence 2022, Anna Aspras, expressed her gratitude for the opportunity to represent Kasos, during the pageant process for Miss Greek Independence 2022, which was recently held by the cultural committee of the Federation of Hellenic Societies of Greater New York. At the same time, she expressed her love for Kasos.

Pulmonologist Dr. Giannis Arapis gave a presentation entitled The Holocaust of Kasos and the Rebirth of the Island from the Ashes, accompanied by photographic and archival material.

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