Goodbye Greece

July 13, 2018 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
As I sit on the plane, having just spent ten glorious days in Greece, let me share some final thoughts of our wonderful trip. Greece is a country rooted in history, it is the cradle of Western civilization and, not at all coincidentally, it is one of the first places the Jews settled after the destruction of the first Temple.  Going to the top of the Acropolis, the ancient Greek temples overlooking the city of Athens—its...
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The Charm of Chalkis

July 12, 2018 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
Something that one might be fairly certain will never appear in a shul, no matter where it is or what the denomination, is a cross. Well, almost nowhere. Visitors to the shul in Chalkis—on the beautiful (there are few other words that so accurately describe much of Greece) island of Evio—can see not one, but two crosses on the walls of the shul.  Like one would find at many shuls, there is a plaque honouring the major donors to...
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Salutations from Salonica

July 11, 2018 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
As one enters the beautiful Yad Lezikaron shul in Salonica, one notices plaques on the wall. But unlike in most shuls, these are not yahrzeit plaques—or, as we have seen elsewhere in Greece, names of victims of the Holocaust. These plaques list names and dates of the shuls established in Salonika over the last 2,000 years. The first name on the list is Ets haChaim, established in the first century.  After the expulsion from Spain in...
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Impressions from Ioannina

July 09, 2018 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
One of the beautiful experiences in travelling around the Jewish world is seeing the richness and diversity of Jewish life. I imagine not many on this list have ever heard laining in the Romaniote (Greek) tradition. Its beautiful tune is similar to, but also distinct from, other Sephardic traditions. The sefer Torah we used was borrowed from the Kahal Kadosh Yashan of Ioannina, the largest shul in...
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Commentary from Corfu

July 06, 2018 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
Ma rabu ma’asecha Hashem, how beautiful are Your creations, G-d!” After travelling in Greece for a couple of days, one understands that the Greek emphasis on beauty is not coincidental; the land itself is one of great natural beauty. Mountains, rivers, lush greenery and more entice the eye. There is much to attract one to Greece, and with our trip focused on Jewish history, we will not even be including the...
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