On Sunday, August 25th, 2019

Experience one of the Oldest Diaspora Jewish Communities:
Join our Tour NYC’s Romaniote Synagogue: KehilaKedosha Janina
Please join Temple Emanu-El Adult Study Group’s day-trip to Kehila Kedosha Janina Synagogue and museum on the Lower East Side.  Discover the history and culture of this 2,300+ year-old stream of Jewish diaspora at the onlyRomaniote synagogue in the western hemisphere.

A Thumbnail to Romaniote History and Culture:
We know of eastern and central European Ashkenazic Jews, Iberian and North African Sephardic Jews, and the fertile crescent’s Mizrachi Jews, but how many of us know about the 2,300+ year-old Jewish diaspora community known as the Romaniotes?

Indigenous to Greece, Romaniote Jews have the distinction of being the longest continuous Jewish presence in Europe. Prior to the destruction of the Second Temple, they established communities along the shores of the Mediterranean Sea and along inland trade routes. By the 1st century C.E., Romaniote communities existed in Thessaloniki, Verroia, Corinthos, Patras, Kavala, Athens, and Rhodes.When Constantine transferred the Roman Empire’s  capital to Constantinople (Istanbul) in 324 C.E., he inherited the Greek- speaking Jews. Now part of the Roman Empire, they called themselves Romaniotes.

Over the next 1,000 years, Romaniote culture thrived in Greece and even developed its own language, Yevanic, a synthesis of Greek, Hebrew and Turkish.But the arrival of tens of thousands of Sephardic Jews fleeing the Spanish and Portuguese expulsions of the late 15th century altered the character of Greek Judaism. Now a minority in their own homeland, most Romaniotes were eventually absorbed into the dominant fabric of Sephardic life.  However, the small isolated Romaniote community in Ioannina[pronounced ee-an-ee-nah] located near the modern Albanian border, preserved its heritage.

Under successive Roman, Muslim and Greek Orthodox rulers, Romaniote Jews maintained their distinct identity within Greek society.  Yet, faced with political and economic instability in the Balkans, Romaniotes were not immune to the lure of America. From 1900-1925 untold thousands of Greek Jews immigrated to the United States.  Among them were about half the 4,000 Romaniote Jews from Ioannina.

Many Greek Jews were dispersed within Sephardic-American culture, yet most Romaniote Jews settled on Manhattan’s Lower East Side where they maintained Romaniote traditions by forming Kehila Kedosha Janina (the Holy Congregation of Ioannina).

Then came World War II.  Under Italian occupation from spring 1941 to summer 1943, relative calm prevailed in Ioannina. But at dawn on March 25, 1944 (a cold day at the start of Pesach), Ioannina’s Jews were roused from bed and gathered at the nearby lake for “transport.”  Shuttled for weeks between camps, they arrived by cattle car at Auschwitz-Birkenau on April 11, 1944. Almost all were gassed, burned and disposed of within 48 hours.  The Romaniotes of Ioannina were not unique in their fate, but are surely emblematic of the extirpation of Romaniote Jewry as a vibrant stream of Greek Jewish life.


About our visit to Kehila Kedosha Janina:
 Temple Emanu-El Adult Education Study Group Sunday August 25th2019 study tour is open to all members of the eastern Connecticut Jewish community.  It will consist of a private 3-hour tour of the synagogue sanctuary, museum, Holocaust memorial, library and gift shopand we will view a documentary film telling the story of Romaniote Jews.  It will also include a traditional Greek-Jewish kosher lunch at the synagogue with Greek salad, dolmades (yaprakes), bourekas, koulouria, seasonal fruit, and traditional Greek Music, at no extra cost above the $18 tour fee if we have over 20 participants.

The experience will be personally led by Museum Director Marcia Haddad Ikonomopoulos and/or Holocaust survivor Sol Kofinas.The Museum includes a library, an art gallery, the first Holocaust Memorial to Greek Jews in America, and extensive resources about the Romaniote experience. The museum visit includes the world’s largest collection of Alephs, the Romaniotes’ distinctive hand-painted birth certificates.

We’ll learn about the differences between the Romaniotes and the Sephardim and see traditional Romaniote costumes from Ioannina. The museum’s restored lower level includes the Dr. Ada Finifterz”l Communal Room and Education Center modeled after a traditional Greek Cafe. We’ll also have a chance to visit the gift shop which features the largest concentrated collection of material on Greek Jewish history and culture.

Join us to learn about a people you never knew existed at KehilaKedosha Janina Synagogue and Museum.  We will depart from Waterford promptly at 8:00am and leave the museum for our return trip in the late afternoon.  Accompanied adolescents are welcome!!The guided synagogue & museum visit is $18.00; we’ll each pay at the synagogue.  We’re still working on options for round-trip transport to NYC.  The transportation mode(andcost )will be additional and dependent on the number of enrollees.  As we’re limited to 40 participants, PLEASE, register as soon as possible

E-mail your reservation to barrysfeldman@gmail.com no later than 5:00pm Friday, August 16th, so we may finalize arrangements.

———————————— Reservation Form ———————————

[Deliver this form or simply provide ALL information in your email.]

1]     I wish to reserve ____ places for the Aug. 25, 2019 Temple Emanu-El Adult Education Study Group trip to Kehila
Kedosha Janina in New York City.
2]     I guarantee payment of $____.00 (@ $18.00 per person) for the 3-hour guided tour of the synagogue, its museum
and associated activities as describedabove.  Please bring cash or check (payable to Kehila Kedosha Janina) when
we arrive at the NYC synagogue
3]     I understand that the cost of transportation will be a function of the number of enrollees. This information will be
provided about 2 weeks before departure. Transportation costs will be collected at our departure from Temple
Emanu-El (29 Dayton Place, Waterford, CT 06345).