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Memorial Service 2011

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Όπως κάθε χρόνο, από το 2001, έτσι και φέτος στην Συναγωγή Χανιών (Ετζ Χαγιιμ) πραγματοποιήθηκε  επιμνημόσυνη δέηση για τα μέλη της εβραϊκής κοινότητας των Χανίων που σκοτώθηκαν το 1944 κατά την διάρκεια της Ναζιστικής κατοχής. Ο χώρος της Συναγωγής ήταν γεμάτος με πολίτες των Χανίων καθώς και επισήμους εκπροσώπους της Τοπικής Ορθόδοξης και Καθολικής εκκλησίας, τον αντιπεριφερειάρχη Χανιών κ. Απόστολο Βουλγαράκη, εκπρόσωπο του Δήμαρχου Χανίων, εκπρόσωπο του Κεντρικού Ισραηλίτικου Συμβουλίου Ελλάδος, της εβραϊκής κοινότητας Αθήνας καθώς και μέλη των εβραϊκών Κοινοτήτων Ηρακλείου και Ρεθύμνου.

Η τελετή άρχισε με τον χαιρετισμό προς τους καλεσμένους από τον κ. Νίκο Σταυρουλάκη. Στη συνεχεία ακολούθησε  ένα λεπτό σιγή καθώς και μια έκκληση προς όλους να συλλογιστούμε όχι μόνο τον χαμό της κοινότητας άλλα και όλων αυτών που έχουν χάσει τη ζωή τους, κάτω από παρόμοιες συνθήκες σε όλο τον κόσμο, τα τελευταία 60 χρόνια.

Ακολούθησαν  προσευχές και η επιμνημόσυνη δέηση, το διάβασμα του ποιήματος της Ζέλντα Μισκόβσκυ «Ο ΚΑΘΕΝΑΣ ΜΑΣ ΕΧΕΙ ΕΝΑ ΟΝΟΜΑ» και, αμέσως μετά, το διάβασμα των ονομάτων των 276 θυμάτων και το άναμα κεριών. Με αυτόν τον τρόπο έκλεισε η τελετή.

Since 2001 we have been able to have a memorial service for the Jewish Community of Hania that perished in 1944. This year was especially significant as we had not only a very large attendance (a full synagogue) but the memory of the Community was honored by the presence of official representatives of the Greek Orthodox, Roman Catholic, City- Council as well as the Jewish Community of Athens and the Central Board of Jewish Communities of Greece.  The service opened with a short homily by the director of the Synagogue (Cf. below) and then as is normal with us – the service was taken over by members of the fraternity. Leon Gavrielides recited the prayers, blessings and admonitions of the Shema. Gabriel Negrin led the Amidah of Arvith and Nataly Ventura read a poem – Each of us has a Name.  As we had more than a formal minyan Roger recited the Kaddish and then the Ehal was opened and in common we formally recited the Yizchor for Martyrs and read out the names of all of the 276 member of the Community who perished in 1944. At the end of this votive candles were lit and distributed throughout the two gardens of the Synagogue.


This is not an event that calls for us to make long speeches that do little more than stress something about ourselves.  Neither, to my mind, is it necessary for us to linger over the pain and suffering of a community that was left in 1941 with no leadership and that perished in some form of wonderment.  Ten years ago I spoke here at the re-dedication ceremony and re-defined the new role of the Synagogue – not as a focal point for a Jewish community but rather as a place of prayer, recollection and reconciliation. In some strange way Etz Hayyim has done this and at the same time has remained a vivid sign of memory of the tragedy of 1944 when its last formal community ironically met its death – not in the camps of Germany and Poland but embraced in the Cretan Sea.

What meaning we can give this is to be found only in how we respond now to our lives and to the world about us which for many has not really changed appreciably.  Genocide, hunger, displacement and insecurity are still with us – hidden and at times justified in another context dictated by time and the abuse of language.

Before we begin I should like us all to sit in silence and see if there is any meaning that we can give to the death of our community in 1944 – or in the deaths under similar circumstances that have followed in the course of the past 60 years. If there is no meaning then these tragedies are empty and futile.

N. Stavroulakis

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