Synagonistis: Greek Jews in the National Resistance

We recently welcomed a new traveling exhibit presented in partnership by the Jewish Museum of Greece and the Greek Secretariat General for Communication to our space in Kreeger Lobby. “Synagonistis” tells the story of Greek Jews in the National Resistance during World War II and is on display now through Tuesday, May 26 at Temple.

The idea for “Synagonistis” was born out of the Jewish Museum of Greece’s research for an earlier exhibit, “The Holocaust of the Greek Jews, 1941-1944.” As the Museum’s staff put together this project, they came into contact with elderly Jewish resistance fighters who felt that history had forgotten their contributions to the war and to the survival of the Jewish people.

Following a six month war on the Albanian front, Nazi Germany invaded Greece on April 6, 1941. The country was occupied and divided by Germany, Italy, and Bulgaria until they were fully liberated with the end of the war in Europe in May 1945. During the occupation, the Holocaust claimed the lives of approximately 62,000 Greek Jews – 82% of the prewar population.

Of the few Greek Jews who escaped Axis forces, 650 men and women were able to join Greece’s resistance movements and “Synagonistis” tells some of their stories.

One of the resistance fighters included in the exhibit is Iossif Nissim. A cadet at the School for Reserve Infantry Officers when the war broke out, his love for military life inspired him to continue the war as a resistance fighter after Greece’s defeat. During the war, he traveled to Alexandria, Egypt and fought on the Middle Eastern front, where he was wounded by a mine in the Battle of Ksar Ghilane in March 1943. For his actions during this battle, he received the Gold Cross of Valour, the highest award given to a Greek-Jewish soldier during World War II.

Also featured is Sara Yeshua, who was well regarded by her fellow resistance fighters as a passionate speaker advocating for armed struggle against the occupation forces, particularly among young women. She formed an independent female resistance group that fought and gathered intelligence. By the end of the war, she was legendary among the partisans of Evia, Greece as “Kapetanissa Sarika” (Partisan Leader Sara).

Find out more about these fighters and the nine other extraordinary Greek-Jewish men and women profiled in “Synagonistis” by visiting the exhibit in Kreeger Lobby.  

Want to learn more about the “Synagonistis” exhibition? Join us and the Embassy of Greece on Tuesday, April 21 at 6:30 pm at Temple for a special reception in recognition of the exhibit. Space is extremely limited, and only 50 spaces are open to Temple members. All RSVPs will be taken on a first-come, first-served basis. To reserve your space at this event, click here.