Jewish headstones cemetery
Jewish headstones cemetery iStock

The leading Jewish organization in Greece expressed “outrage and resentment” on Friday after a tomb in a Jewish cemetery in the northwestern city of Ioannina was discovered desecrated.

The Central Board of Jewish Communities said that the tomb at the city’s Jewish cemetery was discovered on Thursday with its opening slab removed and pieces of marble smashed, reported the Associated Press.

“We strongly condemn this shameful act of sacrilege which indicates that the hatred of the perpetrators leads to villainous manifestations of violence and fanaticism,” they said in a statement.

They stressed that Ioannina’s Jewish cemetery had been vandalized multiple times in the past.

“We call upon the competent authorities to arrest the perpetrators and bring them to justice,” they wrote. “The Jewish cemetery of Ioannina is … a place of memory and cultural heritage for the city of Ioannina as a whole.”

According to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Ioannina’s Jewish community dates back nearly 2,000 years.

After the Nazis occupied the city in 1943, the entire Jewish community of 1,860 people was deported to Auschwitz-Birkenau.

In 2019 the city elected Moses Elisaf as mayor. Elisaf is the first Jewish mayor in Greece.

Nonetheless, anti-Semitism has been an ongoing problem in recent years in Greece, with the former chief rabbi of Thessaloniki, Rabbi Mordechai Frizis, saying in November 2020 that “there is a lot of anti-Semitism in Greece and it is not the easiest thing to be a Jew. There is quite a bit of vandalism to Holocaust memorials and Jewish cemeteries.”

In December 2020, an unidentified man spray-painted the words “Jesus Wins” in black on the walls of a synagogue in Greece and a nearby Holocaust monument.

In March 2021, the Jewish community of Thessaloniki "unequivocally" condemned vandalism to a new mural memorializing the city's Jews who were murdered by the Nazis in death camps.

At the outset of World War II, Thessaloniki, then called Salonika, was home to one of the most ancient Jewish communities in Europe. Before the Holocaust, 55,200 Jews lived there, two-thirds of the population. Only one thirtieth of that population, approximately 1,900 Jews, survived.

(Arutz Sheva’s North American desk is keeping you updated until the start of Shabbat in New York. The time posted automatically on all Arutz Sheva articles, however, is Israeli time.)

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