Preserving History: The Jews of Greece

Published March 27, 2008, issue of April 04, 2008.
  • Print
  • Share Share

The Romaniote Jews are said to be vanishing, but photographer Vincent Giordano is dedicated to preserving their history before it drifts away. Their fading legacy is captured by Giordano in Before the Flame Goes Out, an exhibition that explores two small communities rooted in ancient traditions.

SNAPSHOT: Vincent Giordano photographed Romaniote Jews in Greece and in New York. Above, images of worshippers in Ioannina, Greece, in 2006 and 2007.
SNAPSHOT: Vincent Giordano photographed Romaniote Jews in Greece and in New York. Above, images of worshippers in Ioannina, Greece, in 2006 and 2007.

There were large groups of Romaniotes living in Greece and its neighboring territories some 2,000 years ago. During the early 20th century, many immigrated to France, Palestine, the United States and South America for economic reasons, and 85% of the Jews who remained in Greece were killed during World War II.

The Romaniotes’ religious rituals and customs are distinct from those of Ashkenazic and Sephardic Jews, and Yevanic, a dialect of Greek that incorporates Hebrew and Turkish words, is the language spoken by these Jews.

Giordano documented the only Romaniote synagogue in North America, Kehila Kedosha Janina on Manhattan’s Lower East Side, and the Jewish community in Ioannina, Greece, which claims a mere 35 members.

“In this case, what is disappearing and dwindling are the remnants of a major branch of Judaism,” Giordano said. “What we’re looking at here is not just a neighborhood synagogue in danger.”

The exhibit, currently on display at the Museum of Biblical Art, features some 40 works, including portraits of individuals and images of life cycle, religious and community events.

MOBIA, 1865 Broadway (at 61st St.); through July 13. (212-408-1500 or www.mobia.org)






Find us on Facebook!
  • “I don’t want to say, ‘Oh oh, I’m not Jewish,’ because when you say that, you sound like someone trying to get into a 1950s country club, “and I love the idea of being Jewish." Are you a fan of Seth Meyers?
  • "If you want my advice: more Palestinians, more checkpoints, just more reality." What do you think?
  • Happy birthday Barbra Streisand! Our favorite Funny Girl turns 72 today.
  • Clueless parenting advice from the star of "Clueless."
  • Why won't the city give an answer?
  • BREAKING NEWS: Israel has officially suspended peace talks with the Palestinians.
  • Can you guess what the most boring job in the army is?
  • What the foolish rabbi of Chelm teaches us about Israel and the Palestinian unity deal:
  • Mazel tov to Idina Menzel on making Variety "Power of Women" cover! http://jd.fo/f3Mms
  • "How much should I expect him and/or ask him to participate? Is it enough to have one parent reciting the prayers and observing the holidays?" What do you think?
  • New York and Montreal have been at odds for far too long. Stop the bagel wars, sign our bagel peace treaty!
  • Really, can you blame them?
  • “How I Stopped Hating Women of the Wall and Started Talking to My Mother.” Will you see it?
  • Taglit-Birthright Israel is redefining who they consider "Jewish" after a 17% drop in registration from 2011-2013. Is the "propaganda tag" keeping young people away?
  • Happy birthday William Shakespeare! Turns out, the Bard knew quite a bit about Jews.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.