1932 – 2017
Nicholas Peter Stavroulakis (aka Peter Stavis) was born 20 June, 1932, in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin; his parents Petros and Annie were both immigrants. In 1954, he graduated from the University of Notre Dame with a Bachelor of Arts in European Literature and Philosophy; two years later he earned a Master of Arts degree in Islamic and Near Eastern Studies from the University of Michigan. He then left for England where he began his D. Phil in Islamic Art and Architecture at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) of the University of London under David Rice. Much later he resumed his academic work at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem under Prof. D. Avi Yonah and completed his thesis on “The icons of Mar Saba Monastery in the Wadi Kelt” under Prof. Bezalel Narkiss in 1975.
In 1958, he left England for Athens, Greece, uniting with family there, especially Dori Kanellos, son of his father’s sister Maria. For the next eight years, he taught classes for the Doxiades School of Ekistics and the Anglo-American Academy.
At the same time, he pursued a parallel career as a painter and engraver, with a number of one-man shows, the first at the New Forms Gallery in Athens in 1960, others in Athens, London, Paris, Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. His works are included in collections at the New York Museum of Modern Art, the Houston Museum of Modern Art and others worldwide.
Following a visit to Israel in 1966-1967, he moved there in 1969, assuming his Hebrew name Daniel Hannan. Living in Jerusalem he served as director of the excavation of Santa Maria Allemana under the Jerusalem Foundation from 1969 to 1971. From 1972 to 1974 he lectured at the University of Tel Aviv in Byzantine Art and Architecture.
In 1974 he returned to Athens, where he lectured in Byzantine, Islamic and Ottoman history and art for several American study-abroad programs, to include College Year in Athens, St John’s University (Minnesota), and the Athens Centre.
In the 1970s, Nikos co-founded the Jewish Museum of Greece together with Nouli Vital, Eli Almosnino and Ida Mordoh. He served as its director from 1977 to 1993, constantly expanding its collection with rare books and publications, textiles, costumes, jewelry, and domestic and religious artifacts. During these years he wrote a number of books, to include The Jews of Greece, Salonica: Jews and Dervishes and the Cookbook of the Jews of Greece. He also translated the Holocaust memoir of Errikos Sevillias Athens to Auschwitz. Later he also served as consultant for the newly established Jewish museums of Salonika and Rhodes.
In 1994, Nikos moved to Chania, Crete, where he conceived and executed the project of restoring the synagogue of Etz Hayyim, in ruins since World War II. Under his direction, construction began in 1996, and the building was rededicated in 1999. In 2010, the synagogue was officially incorporated as a non-profit organization, while Nikos continued as its spiritual director until his death.