Romaniote Memories: A Jewish Journey from Ioannina, Greece to Manhattan: Photographs by Vincent Giordano

Virtual Programs

The Queens College Center for Jewish Studies, Hellenic American Project, and Benjamin S. Rosenthal Library sponsored three virtual lectures related to the exhibition, available for public viewing online: 

Architecture of Greek Synagogues
 with Dr. Samuel Gruber 
Jews have had synagogues in Greek-speaking lands and within the modern boundaries of the Hellenic Republic for two thousand years. The art and architecture of these buildings tells the story of identity, tenacity, adaption, and influence as Greek Jews developed and sustained language, liturgy, and distinctive culture through Roman, Byzantine, and Ottoman rule. Ancient Romaniote traditions were supplemented by the culture of Sephardi Jews who found refuge in Ottoman lands after 1492. In the 20th century, this mixed Romaniote-Sephardi Jewish heritage was transported in a new Greek-Jewish diaspora in the United States, and after the Holocaust, in Israel. Only a small Jewish population survived the Holocaust in Greece. Many synagogues of the destroyed communities have been demolished. Those that remain—and the small, but vibrant Kehila Kedosha Janina Congregation in New York—bear witness. This talk, building on the work of several researchers and utilizing the photography of Vincent Giordano, focuses on the architecture of the synagogues in Ioannina, Greece and in New York, placing these surviving buildings in the context of a longer history.

Mayor Moses Elisaf discusses Jewish life in Ioannina in the past and present 
with Prof. Arnold Franklin of Queens College 
Moses Elisaf was born in Ioannina, Greece in 1954 and graduated from the University of Athens in 1979. His parents were Holocaust survivors who escaped the roundup when most of Ioannina’s Jews were deported to Auschwitz. Elisaf is a pathologist and a professor of internal medicine at Ioannina Medical School, where he also serves as director of the Lipids, Atherosclerosis, Obesity and Diabetes
Department. In 1993 and 1994, he worked at the Sackler Faculty of Medicine at Tel Aviv University. He has been the president of the Romaniote Jewish community of Ioannina for over a decade and previously served as president of the Central Board of Jewish Communities in Greece. In 2019, Elisaf was elected mayor of Ioannina, becoming Greece’s first and only Jewish mayor.

From the Cobblestone Lanes of Ioannina to the Sidewalks of New York: The Journey of Greek-Speaking Romaniote Jews
 with Dr. Nicholas Alexiou and Marcia Haddad Ikonomopoulos
Marcia Haddad Ikonomopoulos and Nicholas Alexiou will discuss the arrival of the Romaniote Jews to the shores of this country in the context of the first wave of Greek immigration to America between 1900 and 1924. Focusing on the connections of language and culture, the speakers will explore the ethnic and religious identity of the Romaniotes, highlighting their interactions with their non-Jewish Greek neighbors on the one hand, and Jewish immigrants of Ashkenazi and Sephardic background on the other.

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