Thursday, February 5, 2015
Little known story of an island in Greece's courageous act of bravery
The Jewish community has lived and thrived in Greece from the time the temple was destroyed 2000 thousand years ago. Almost 90 percent of the Jews in Greece were victims of Hitler's final and horrific solution. Deno Seder tells of a small island called Zakynthos where the Christian community hid their Jewish neighbors saving them from German plans to exterminate them. Seder traces Jewish relationships with both the Greek and Catholic church with historical facts, providing laws and edicts to show the differences in their perception of other religions. He also delves deeply into the destruction of Salonica, with personal accounts of survivors retelling stories of deportation. He discusses the decimation of Gypsies by the German invaders. Something on this small island was different that the rest of Europe, and Deno uses personal accounts to explain it.
"The Greek Orthodox Christians of Zakynthos
did not inherit the centuries-old institutionalized
Catholic and Protestant anti-Semitism. A few
Jewish citizens felt the lingering vestiges of ancient
antipathy, but for the most part, the Jews and
Christians of the island felt connected to one
another. They were friends and neighbors. There
was an unspoken bond of trust, especially during
the darkest days of the occupation. Survivor
testimonies underscored this trust..."
As the records of this small island was destroyed due to a natural disaster, little is know about the brave people of the island. Seder explains the strong and incorruptible backbone of the Bishop of the church as well as the mayor, matched with their ingenuity propelled the Christian villages to band together and save their neighbors regardless of faith. This is an inspiring book, of courageous people that reminds us that we all are indeed "our brother's keepers," regardless of race, creed, or religion.
Carole P. Roman