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Greenberg Center for Judaic Studies Holding a Series of Events to Celebrate the Jews of Rhodes

Posted 10/01/2015
Posted by David Isgur

The University of Hartford’s Maurice Greenberg Center for Judaic Studies will be one of the hosts of a series of events on the afternoon and evening ofSunday,  October 18, to celebrate the culture and music of the Jews of Rhodes in Greece. All of the events are free and open to the public.

Rhodes was home to one of most ancient Jewish communities of Europe with occupation going back 2,300 years. It was one of the great communities of Sephardic Jewry and was called: “La Chica Yerushalyim” (“the little Jerusalem”). Before World War II, there were as many as six synagogues, a rabbinical college, many schools, scholars and a unique culture which wrote, sang, and spoke a rich dialect of Ladino (a medieval Jewish Spanish) mixed with Turkish, Latin and Greek. On July 23, 1944, the Nazis deported all of the Jews on the island to Auschwitz. 

In its Museum of Jewish Civilization (located within the University’s Mortensen Library), the Greenberg Center will mark the opening of the exhibition “It was Paradise: Jewish Rhodes,” which features artifacts on loan from the Rhodes Jewish Museum, historical photographs, along with maps and photos of the excavations projects being undertaken by the Greenberg Center in Rhodes. The Greenberg Center's work also included interviewing Rhodian Jews who left before WWII and family members of those who survived the Holocaust now found in South Africa, Zimbabwe, Buenos Aires, Italy, Los Angeles, Florida and New Jersey. Some of the most poignant parts of the exhibition include original documents and books of Rhodian Jews and the list of 42 Jews saved by a Turkish (Muslim) consul in Rhodes. The exhibition was curated by Dreanna Hadash together with Professor Avinoam Patt, director of the museum.  

Prior to the 2 p.m. opening of the exhibition, Professor Richard Freund, director of the Greenberg Center, will give a short presentation on the exhibition and UHart excavations in Rhodes. His presentation will be held in Mali I auditorium in Dana Hall at 1 p.m.

The exhibition opening event will include a reception. The Jewish Rhodes exhibition is sponsored, in part, by the Avzaradel-Capuano Rhodes Fund and the Korowitz Family Fund.

The day will be capped off with a Ladino concert, featuring one of the stars of Ladino music, Susan Gaeta, and Cantor Sanford Cohn of the Emanuel Synagogue to be held at the Emanuel Synagogue in West Hartford at 7 p.m. The concert is sponsored by the American Sephardi Federation, El Instituto (UCONN), the Greenberg Center, and the Emanuel Synagogue.

For more information, contact the Greenberg Center at or 860.768.4964.