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Ioannina Jewish community in Greece fights extinction

Ioannina Jewish community in Greece fights extinction

IOANNINA, Greece — When the Jews of Ioannina gathered in their whitewashed-stone synagogue over the weekend, it was to commemorate 70 years since the Nazis destroyed their community.

But the March 30 gathering also served to highlight a source of present-day sadness: the withering of the unique 2,300 year-old Romaniote Jewish tradition.

Ioannina, a postcard-pretty town in northwestern Greece with a medieval fortress perched by a bright blue lake and surrounded by snow-capped mountains, once was the center of Romaniote Jewish life.

Today, however, the community in Ioannina numbers fewer than 50 members, most of them elderly. The last time the community celebrated a Bar Mitzvah was in 2000.

The community’s leaders fear for its future.

Last Updated ( Thursday, 03 April 2014 13:14 )

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Features

Winnepeg offers strategy for failing communities

Winnepeg offers strategy for failing communitiesWINNIPEG — When the leaders of Winnipeg’s Jewish federation sat down 13 years ago to try to figure out a way to reverse the community’s decline, they came up with a novel idea: recruit Jews from overseas. The idea was pretty straightforward. Capitalizing on the pro-immigration policies of their home province of Manitoba, the Winnipeg federation would seek out faraway Jews — mainly from troubled countries in South America — and bring them to the snow-swept plains of central Canada. Th...
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Features

‘Who is a Jew’ in Uganda

‘Who is a Jew’ in UgandaNABUGOYE, Uganda — On Fridays at sundown, the Jewish residents of this village set amid the lush hills of eastern Uganda gather in the synagogue to greet Shabbat. The room is bare, the light is dim and the Conservative prayer books are worn. But the spare surroundings do little to diminish the enthusiasm of the men, women and children who sing psalms, clap and dance while a few in the front strum guitars and play drums. Two days later and an hour away in the village of Putti, a handful of me...
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Features

Teen raises money for brain tumor research

Teen raises money for brain tumor researchWASHINGTON — For years, Matthew Baratz listened as his Hebrew high school teacher and mentor, Steve Glassman, shared stories of children and adults falling victim to brain tumors. “I had heard how common [brain tumors] were, but it never really caught my attention,” said Baratz, 17, of Phoenix, Ariz. Then three years ago, Baratz’s grandfather — his mother’s father — became one of those victims. The devastating personal connection to the disease inspired his involvement with Stude...
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Features

Hadassah Medical faces tough choices

Hadassah Medical faces tough choicesJERUSALEM — The Sarah Wetsman Davidson Hospital Tower stretches 223 feet skyward, welcoming visitors in a bright, expansive lobby strung with banners celebrating both the State of Israel and its premier hospital, the Hadassah Medical Organization. Opened in late 2012 at a total cost of $363 million, the tower is the largest building project undertaken at Hadassah in 50 years and a symbol of the hospital’s ambitions for the future. Now that future is in peril as the hospital, saddled with n...
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