Publications and Newsletters 

 

KKJ periodically publishes our Community Newsletter, The Romaniote, to thousands around the country and around the world. The Newsletter includes news on Simchas, Greek Jewish history, synagogue developments, museum programs, and much more. 
 
In addition to The Romaniote, every month KKJ is proud to publish an E-Newsletter to over 10,000 people around the world, keeping them up to date on the latest news in our community as well as the global Greek-Jewish Community. Below you can find our latest Newsletter as well as previous Newsletters. If you'd like to be added to our email list, please feel free to subscribe.
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The Romaniote

Community E-Newsletter 

Spring 2019

As with many other Jewish congregations throughout the world, we, too, have been plagued by changes in demographics, leading to lower service attendance at our synagogue. We have persevered over the years and are now looking to the future. We have joined forces with, and derived inspiration from, Rabbi Gabriel Negrin, the Chief Rabbi of Athens Greece, himself a Romaniote. 

Spring 2018

You cannot know who you are until you know where you came from, and you certainly cannot know where you are going until you access what brought you to the present. This is not only the individual story of successful people, but also the basis of achievement for successful institutions. Kehila Kedosha Janina has been very fortunate in having a wealth of inspiring history to fall back on, and, as has been shown by our renaissance in recent years, a path for a productive future.

Winter 2016

Many articles have been written about Kehila Kedosha Janina, initially forecasting the demise of the community and our beloved synagogue. As our community persevered and continued to, not only maintaining a functioning Jewish house of worship but, also, becoming a major tourist attraction, highlighted by visits to our Museum, many wondered why. Why was this community that so many thought would pass into oblivion, still viable in the modern world? One word may hold the key: dedication.

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Past Romaniote Newsletters

Spring 2019

As with many other Jewish congregations throughout the world, we, too, have been plagued by changes in demographics, leading to lower service attendance at our synagogue. We have persevered over the years and are now looking to the future. We have joined forces with, and derived inspiration from, Rabbi Gabriel Negrin, the Chief Rabbi of Athens Greece, himself a Romaniote.

Past Romaniote Newsletters

Spring 2018

You cannot know who you are until you know where you came from, and you certainly cannot know where you are going until you access what brought you to the present. This is not only the individual story of successful people, but also the basis of achievement for successful institutions. Kehila Kedosha Janina has been very fortunate in having a wealth of inspiring history to fall back on, and, as has been shown by our renaissance in recent years, a path for a productive future.

Past Romaniote Newsletters

Winter 2016

Many articles have been written about Kehila Kedosha Janina, initially forecasting the demise of the community and our beloved synagogue. As our community persevered and continued to, not only maintaining a functioning Jewish house of worship but, also, becoming a major tourist attraction, highlighted by visits to our Museum, many wondered why. Why was this community that so many thought would pass into oblivion, still viable in the modern world? One word may hold the key: dedication.

Past Romaniote Newsletters

Fall 2014

So often we are asked the question, “How do we ensure that our traditions and customs are passed on to the next generation?” This is a challenge faced by all communities. Our challenge is made even greater because of the fact that we are so few in number and so distinct.

Past Romaniote Newsletters

Spring 2013

Our synagogue is called Kehila Kedosha Janina (The Holy Congregation of Janina). The word Kehila has another meaning: community. From antiquity to the present, a synagogue served the community. The congregation was the community. Our forefathers could have named their synagogue many things: synagogue, temple, congregation, but they chose the traditional name used in Greece among Romaniote Jews for a Jewish house of worship,“kehila.” For the founding fathers of Kehila Kedosha Janina, the structure built in 1927 was more than a house of worship or a place to study. It was a place for the community to preserve its traditions, customs and language.

Past Romaniote Newsletters

Spring 2011

The story of Greek Jewry has been punctuated by the word “survival;” survival as the longest continuous Jewish presence in the European Diaspora (going back over 2,300 years); survival in spite of the horrors of the Holocaust (87% of Greek Jewry perished, the largest percentage of any officially occupied country) and, for Kehila Kedosha Janina, survival as a Jewish house of worship. In 1927, when Kehila Kedosha Janina opened its doors, there were hundreds of synagogues on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. We now proudly stand as one of only five Jewish houses of worship dating from that era still functioning as an active synagogue.

Past Romaniote Newsletters

Spring 2010

At the time that Kehila Kedosha Janina was established in 1927, there were an estimated 500 Jews of Romaniote descent still living on the Lower East Side, many having already made the move to the outer boroughs of the Bronx and Brooklyn, or “uptown” to Harlem. Of those “500,” all were connected through familial ties, either through marriage or by blood, probably a core family grouping of no more than 50 families. Family would always play an important role for this conservative, traditional, observant group of Greek Jews. Most lived in close proximity to each other, filling the tenements on Broome Street adjacent to the synagogue, or on the surrounding blocks of Eldridge, Allen, Orchard, Delancey and Grand.

Past Romaniote Newsletters

Fall 2009

In creating The Holy Congregation of Janina (Kehila Kedosha Janina), the founding fathers did more than just build a sanctuary; they created a legacy, one that they would pass on to their children and grandchildren. More than just bricks and mortar, Kehila Kedosha Janina encompasses traditions inherent in Judaism. The Jews of Ioannina who came to the United States in the early part of the twentieth century may not have been highly educated but, more important, they knew how to do the right thing. They took care of their families, preserved their religion and passed on important values to their children and grandchildren. This, in essence, was their legacy.

Past Romaniote Newsletters

Spring 2009

When Kehila Kedosha Janina opened its doors for services in 1927, it was one of hundreds of Jewish houses of worship on the Lower East Side of New York City. Today, 82 years later, our synagogue is one of only five original synagogues from the early 20th century that still functions as a Jewish house of worship open for regular services every Shabbat and all Jewish holidays. So much of our success is due to the commitment, passion and perseverance of the founding fathers, attributes that they passed on to their children and grandchildren. They were proud of who they were, committed to their religion and culture, different from so many others on the Lower East Side but passionate in preserving their distinct liturgy and culture.

Past Romaniote Newsletters

Fall 2008

The ongoing restoration of our beloved synagogue has, in many ways, been an “archeological dig,” revealing interesting findings about the original community. When the synagogue was first constructed in 1927, the community then living on the Lower East Side probably numbered no more than 50 families, many families having already moved to the outer boroughs of the Bronx and Brooklyn. These were, for the most part, poor, hard-working, observant Jews for whom their religion permeated all aspects of their daily life. In addition, they dearly loved their “Greek” culture and traditions. The Kehila (community) was formally incorporated in the New York City in 1914, but the property to build a synagogue was not acquired until 1921. It would take five years to raise the funds to erect the humble structure, and they would erect the structure themselves. 

Past Romaniote Newsletters

Spring 2008

In 1927, a magnificent Torah scroll, encased in a heavy silver tik, was brought over from Ioannina, Greece to dedicate the new synagogue, Kehila Kedosha Janina. Over the course of the years the tik would tarnish, in many ways reflecting the decline of the small Romaniote community that used the facilities on 280 Broome Street, but the Torah inside would continue to be used by the traditional, observant, Romaniote congregation. Eighty years later, those who had the foresight to send the Torah to New York City can look down from the heavens above and be assured that the small congregation on Broome Street has been worthy of their gift. In many ways, the silver tik and the Torah inside represent the positive changes taking place at Kehila Kedosha Janina. The tik is being shined, the tarnish gently removed, its luster restored, by Andrew Marcus, the son of our President, Marvin.

Past Romaniote Newsletters

Fall 2007

Ten years ago, the world was ready to write us off: even our own people were questioning whether we should close our doors and go the way of so many other synagogues on the Lower East Side. Our perseverance and commitment to the “little Greek synagogue on Broome Street” have been rewarded. Not only are we a part of the recent renaissance on the Lower East Side, but we are in the forefront. Our recent rededication (May 20th) of the Kehila Kedosha Janina Synagogue and Museum saw Broome Street between Eldridge and Allen closed to traffic as the crowds gathered to celebrate our triumphs. Greek, Israeli and American flags flew from our façade.

Past Romaniote Newsletters

Spring 2007

It took a little longer than expected and involved more patience than anticipated, but the dust is cleared and the interior of our synagogue has been restored to its 1927 splendor. As an historical landmark, we had to preserve the architectural integrity of the structure, but we could have gutted the interior and started from scratch. It probably would have been easier. It certainly would have been less costly. But, it would have borne little resemblance to the synagogue the founders had created. We chose to take the more challenging road and keep not only the architectural integrity of the building but also preserve the essence of the synagogue constructed in 1927.

Past Romaniote Newsletters

Fall 2006

On February 13, 2006, shortly before this newsletter was to be published, our beloved President, Hy Genee, the backbone of our congregation and our synagogue, suddenly passed away. Originally, we had thought to publish a short, special memorial newsletter in March and then the original newsletter in September, but as those who knew Hy began to send us their thoughts and memories, the decision was made to combine both for this double issue, with a special pull-out section dedicated to Hy. For those of us who had the honor of knowing and working with Hy, he will always be with us. May his blessed memory inspire us to continue with renewed strength to make his dreams a reality. 

Past Romaniote Newsletters

Fall 2006 Special Edition - In Memory of Hy Genee

On February 13th we were shaken by the death of our beloved President, Hy Genee. This newsletter is dedicated to his memory. So many people sent in their thoughts and their memories of this special man. Please forgive us if your comments were not included, or if we had to edit what you sent us. It would have taken volumes to include everything. Hy was always so proud of his family. In the midst of this devastating loss, their strength and dignity have been an inspiration to us all. Hy’s daughter, Lois, and his oldest grandchild, Melissa, gave sensitive eulogies at the funeral (at Sinai Chapels on February 15th). For all of you who were there in the packed chapel, and to the many more who could not attend, I am reprinting their words in their entirety (pages 6-7). The Genee and Ledner families want to thank all of you who expressed condolences. They were deeply touched by the outpouring of emotion and would like to thank those who sent in donations to the Kehila. We all are extremely grateful for your generosity. 

Past Romaniote Newsletters

Fall 2005

Due to an exceedingly generous bequest from the estate of Mrs. Frances Siegelbaum, we have been able to start our long-anticipated interior restoration. Soon our interior will be a fitting accompaniment to our newly refurbished exterior. None of this could have been done without your continued support. And special thanks to David Bellel for his generous donation in memory of his late father, Sol. We have been truly blessed in the support we have received. Many other donors, too numerous to mention, have given us the hope that our dreams will soon become a reality. 

Past Romaniote Newsletters

Fall 2004

We are overjoyed to tell you that thanks to our generous supporters, the first stage of the restoration of Kehila Kedosha Janina Synagogue and Museum is complete. The façade has been restored to its original beauty and we are now the pride of the neighborhood! The roof has been repaired (no more leaks!) and reproductions of the original stained glass windows now adorn our synagogue. Stop by and admire your Kehila! Now, the next stage, the restoration and refurbishing of the interior, can begin. Hundreds of thousands of dollars will be necessary to complete the project: repair of damage from leaks; re-plastering; repair of interior structural damage due to wear and tear over the years; electrical updating and air conditioning; painting and carpeting. We also hope to provide additional exhibition space in our museum to enable the display of many items that are now in storage.

Past E-Newsletters

November 2020

Wishing all those who celebrate a Joyous Thanksgiving. There are strong historical connections between Judaism and Thanksgiving. Most of the Pilgrims who celebrated the first Thanksgiving were Puritans, a branch of the Protestant faith. The Puritans strongly identified with the historical traditions and customs of the Israelites in the Bible.

October 2020

On October 28, Greece stops and remembers Oxi Day when, 80 years ago, the Hellenic Republic stood up to Fascism to prevent the Italian invasion of Greece. Read the article that follows in this newsletter about this important date and the role that Greek Jews played on the battlefield. Hellenes throughout the world will join in the commemoration, even if for most of us it will be virtual.

September 2020

This year, the High Holiday of Rosh HaShanah ushers in the New Year of 5781, as Jewish families around the world gather for family dinners and wish each other "May you be inscribed and sealed for a good year." The foods and languages may differ, but the thoughts and prayers are the same. The Shofar is blown; its plaintive cry serves as a call to repentance. This year, 2020, has challenged us in many ways, as a pandemic sweeps across the globe. Rosh HaShanah will be very different this year. We may not have the luxury of large family gatherings. We may not be able to travel to visit loved ones. That does not mean that we will not observe our traditional customs, we will just perform them differently. A major reason for our survival as a people, as the Jewish people, has been our ability to adapt, very often to adversity. We will adapt this year and we will survive.

August 2020

As we approach the High Holidays, we remind our readers of the tradition of Hashkavoth at Kehila Kedosha Janina. We are not yet sure what the Holidays will be like this year in light of COVID19. Our Board is discussing whether we can be open to celebrate or, if not, what we can do in lieu of gathering together. At Kehila Kedosha Janina, we follow the centuries-old Romaniote custom of our people by reciting Hashkavoth (Memorial Prayers) and the individual names of our dearly departed during the Kol Nidre Yom Kippur Eve service. If you wish to honor your family members or friends in this very special way, please email their names as soon as possible to museum@kkjsm.org.