Kehila Kedosha Janina and Greek Jewish Culture and History
by Samuel D. Gruber
Kehila Kedosha Janina of New York, located at 280 Broome Street, is the only Romaniote synagogue in the New World. In recent years the historic synagogue, built in 1927 and designated a landmark by the City of New York in 2004, has been entirely restored - while fully maintaining every aspect of its historic appearance (the art, architecture and community of KKJ were documented by the late Vincent Giordano in a project sponsored by ISJM in partnership with KKJ). A small exhibition space has been created in the basement where some of Mr. giordano's photos are on view, and a museum of Greek-Jewish heritage installed in the women's gallery. The Museum, energetically curated by Haddad Ikonomopoulos, actively collects family histories - through physical objects and documents and filmed oral histories.
KKJ maintains weekly religious services, with Shabbat morning services followed by a traditional Greek Jewish kiddish. Synagogue and museum regularly schedule public events - lectures, concerts, etc.
Marcia publishes an e-newsletter which now reaches some 6,000 recipients. The newest issue, the 65th, covers news of the KKJ community, and commemorates the 70th anniversary of the deportation of the Jewish Communities of Rhodes and Kos (July 26, 1944) and also wider news concerning Greek Jewry.
[There will also be a commemorative symposium on the Holocaust in the Aegean, and especially on the deportation of the Jews of Rhodes & Cos: 1944-2014, held on Rhodes this coming July 22-24 (2014). More information can be found at www.jewishrhodes.org]
Back issues of the newsletters can be found on the KKJ website www.kkjsm.org. To subscribe, contact KKJ at email@example.com.
KKJ's congregation is small, so contributions to maintain Kehila Kedosha Janina's building and museum are always welcome. Checks (in US dollars) can be sent to KKJ at 280 Broome Street, New York, NY 10002 (attention Marcia). Donations enable the community to continue to hold services and preserve Romaniote traditions and customs.
When in New York, be sure to schedule a visit to KKJ on Broome Street on the Lower East Side. The synagogue is open for services every Saturday and all major Jewish holidays and the Museum is open every Sunday from 11-4 and, by appointment during the week. Special Judeo-Greek themed events can be arranged for groups.