Venice and Greece Kosher Cruise
aboard the Norwegian Cruise Lines: Star

August 12-19, 2018 (7 Nights - Kosher Cruise)


  SCHOLAR IN RESIDENCE:
  Rabbi Zev Meir Friedman
  (see below)


Itinerary

 

DAY

PORT

ARRIVE

DEPART

Sun., Aug. 12 Venice 5:00 pm
Mon., Aug. 13 Kotor, Montenegro 2:00 pm 8:00 pm
Tues., Aug. 14 Corfu 10:00 am 4:00 pm
Wed., Aug. 15 Santorini 2:00 pm 10:00 pm
Thurs., Aug. 16 Mykonos 8:00 am 4:00 pm
Fri., Aug. 17 At Sea
Sat., Aug. 18 Dubrovnik 7:00 am 1:00 pm
Sun., Aug. 19 Venice 8:00 am
 

Book today and you can choose great amenities such as free Wi-Fi or Onboard credit!*

*Based on NCL promotions at the time of booking.

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2018 Venice and Greece Kosher Cruise

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Accommodations

Select the Cabin Category you would like, and then scroll to the bottom of this form to select the number of travelers and submit it.

Inside Stateroom

   
Cat. Description Price
Inside Stateroom Inside Stateroom.
Cat.: Description: Price:
IF Inside $2,980

Cat.: Description: Price:
IE Mid-Ship Inside $3,070

Cat.: Description: Price:
ID Inside $3,095

Cat.: Description: Price:
IC Inside $3,105

Cat.: Description: Price:
IB Mid-Ship Inside $3,115

Cat.: Description: Price:
I1 Family Inside $3,130

Cat.: Description: Price:
IA Mid-Ship Inside $3,130


Outside Staterooms

   
Cat. Description Price
Outside Staterooms Exterior & Oceanview Staterooms
Oceanview Staterooms include two lower beds that convert into a queen-size bed.
Some Staterooms may have pull down beds that sleep up to two additional guests.
(161 sq. ft.)
Cat.: Description: Price:
OK Obstructed Oceanview $3,155

Cat.: Description: Price:
OG Oceanview Porthole Window $3,300

Cat.: Description: Price:
OF Mid-Ship Oceanview Porthole Window $3,310

Cat.: Description: Price:
OB $3,345

Cat.: Description: Price:
O1 Family Oceanview Picture Window $3,390

Cat.: Description: Price:
OA Oceanview Picture Window $3,390


Veranda (Balcony) Staterooms

   
Cat. Description Price
Veranda (Balcony) Staterooms Veranda (Balcony) Staterooms come with two lower beds that convert into a queen-size bed.
Some Staterooms are equipped with a convertible sofa pulls out to sleep one more.
They include a sitting area and floor-to-ceiling glass doors that open to a private balcony.
(205 sq. ft.)
Cat.: Description: Price:
BD Balcony $3,900

Cat.: Description: Price:
BC Balcony $3,940
Wait List

Cat.: Description: Price:
BA Mid-Ship Balcony $4,070

Cat.: Description: Price:
BB Balcony $4,070

Cat.: Description: Price:
B3 Family Balcony $4,080

Cat.: Description: Price:
B1 Aft-Facing Balcony $4,655


Mini Suite

   
Cat. Description Price
Mini Suite These Mini-Suites sleep up to four guests, include a sitting area, luxury bath with shower, two lower beds that convert into a queen-size bed and additional bedding to sleep two additional guests. Not to mention the private balcony with great view.
Cat.: Description: Price:
MB Mini-Suite with Balcony $4,265

Cat.: Description: Price:
MA Mid-Ship Mini-Suite with Balcony $4,360


Suites

   
Cat. Description Price
Suites Suites
Cat.: Description: Price:
SJ $5,285

Cat.: Description: Price:
SF Penthouse - Sleeps two, with a bedroom with queen-size bed and luxury bath and shower, in addition to the living area, dining area and large private balcony. Includes butler and concierge service.
(341-387 sq. ft.)
$5,525

Cat.: Description: Price:
SG $5,525

Cat.: Description: Price:
SE Penthouse - sleep two, with a bedroom with queen-size bed and luxury bath and shower. Also includes a living area, dining area and large private balcony that offers an amazing view. Includes butler and concierge service.
(489-578 sq. ft.)
$5,800

Cat.: Description: Price:
SC $7,325

Cat.: Description: Price:
SA $7,685

Cat.: Description: Price:
S1 3-Bedroom Garden Villa - sleeps up to 8 with three separate bedrooms, each with a king- or queen-size bed & luxury bath. Has a living room, dining room & incredible private garden with hot tub. Includes access to a private courtyard area. Includes butler and concierge service.
(4,252 sq. ft.)
$19,125
Wait List




• Rates are subject to change without notice.
• All rates are per person based on double occupancy.
• Gratuities not included – unless indicated.
• $1000 per person deposit due at time of booking.

For Non-Holiday sailings:
Balance of Full Payment is due 100 days before sailing for regular staterooms
and 130 days before sailing for all Suites.

For Holiday sailings:
Balance of Full Payment is due 130 days before sailing for all stateroom types.

• Single rate is 170% in all categories.
• 3rd/4th person rate (all Categories) is $2115 (adult or child).
Capacity for 3rd/4th passenger may not be available for all cabin categories
• Travel insurance is strongly recommended.
• These rates do not include port charges and taxes of $106.63
• This rate does not include prepaid gratuities:
   $13.99 per guest per day for any category up to a Mini-Suite stateroom
   $16.99 per guest per day for any suite or Haven category

Cancellation policy:
For Non-Holiday sailings:
Regular cabins - Bookings are refundable less $100 administration fee per person until 100 days before sailing. Less than 100 days: 100% of total - no refund.
Suites - Bookings are refundable less $100 administration fee per person until 130 days before sailing. Less than 130 days: 100% of total - no refund.

For all Holiday sailings:
All cabins - Bookings are refundable less $100 administration fee per person until 130 days before sailing.
Less than 130 days: 100% of total - no refund.

We strongly recommend purchasing travel insurance.
Number of travelers in your room:



C   R   U   I   S   E       S   H   I   P       I   N   F   O   R   M   A   T   I   O   N

NCL Star

ncBreakaway
 

Norwegian Cruise Lines Norwegian Star blends the relaxed Freestyle Cruising concept with cruises to the Baltic capitals, The Caribbean and Transatlantic. Onboard Norwegian Star features 15 delicious dining options, 11 bars and lounges, a sprawling spa, an always-exciting casino, plus tons of fun for kids of every age. So whether you're exploring Northern Europe sipping Piña Coladas in The Caribbean, or cruising across the Atlantic, this ship offers it all.





Gross Tonnage: 91,740 grt.(One registered ton equals 100 cubic feet)
Length: 965 ft
Passenger capacity: 2,348 (double occupancy)
Dedicated: 2001
Refurbished: 2015



Rabbi Zev Meir Friedman

Rabbi Zev Meir Friedman Rabbi Zev Meir Friedman is Rosh HaYeshiva of Rambam Mesivta of Lawrence and its sister school Midreshet Shalhevet High School for Girls in North Woodmere . Rabbi Friedman received his rabbinic ordination at Yeshiva Bnei Torah and his D.P.M. (Doctor of Podiatric Medicine) from the Ohio College of Podiatric Medicine, after graduating Brooklyn College. He is a noted lecturer and maggid shiur in the Five Towns community and has served as a scholar in residence across the country. He is also noted for his leadership and activism on behalf of Jewish causes, leading demonstrations against former Nazis residing in the US, French acquiescence to anti-Semitism, Saudi support of terror, and supports a myriad of causes on behalf of Medinat Yisrael.

Major Cruise Questions


What is included in the price of my cruise?

Virtually everything, with the exception of certain items of a personal nature, for which there is a fair and reasonable charge. Your cruise fare includes shipboard accommodations, ocean transportation, standard meals, services and onboard entertainment.

What's not included

Items that are of a personal nature, for which there is a fair and reasonable charge. Not included in the cruise fare are items that are of a personal nature including gratuities, shore excursions, airfare, telephone calls, faxes, spa treatments, salon services, photographs, laundry and valet service as well as wine, liquor and other beverages.

Will I need a passport or visa?

You are responsible for obtaining all necessary travel documents and for complying with Customs and Immigration requirements. Guests with out proper travel documents will not be allowed to board the vessel. If for some reason you must leave the ship mid-cruise, you will be denied re-entry into the U.S. unless you possess a valid U.S. passport and no refund of cruise fare will be given to any guest failing to bring such documentation. All major cruise lines encourage all guests to obtain passports as soon as possible to avoid backlogs. For more information, please visit the U.S State department website at www.travel.state.gov.




WHAT TO PACK –
Most of the time, you'll feel comfortable in casual resort wear including light cotton clothing for all cruises. It is advised to bring breathable clothing to maximize your comfort.

Be sure to also bring:
• A lightweight clothing. It is generally in the 70’s and 80’s on these sailings
• Baseball hats, sunglasses, lots of sun lotion, coverups and swimwear. You can find the most gorgeous private beaches!
• Casual exploring outfits. No need to be fancy on the at the ports of call.
• Flip flops are always super handy on the beach.
• One or two pairs of dress shoes to accompany your dinner outfit
• Always go on www.weather.com for more info. You can get a 10 day forecast.

WEATHER –
Temperatures in these gorgeous locations tends to be on the warmer side. Think in the 80’s and brisker at night. Please always go onto www.weather.com for more information.

PORT HIGHLIGHTS AND EXCURSIONS –
Kosherica offers some beautiful Jewish interest excursions in these ports as detailed below:
• Barcelona – visit the Jewish quarter and learn about the incredible Jewish history followed by a bus tour to take in some of the magnificent architecture that Barcelona is famous for.
• Rome – learn about the 23 centuries of Jewish history in the first part of your tour which includes the Jewish Ghetto and breathtaking synagogue. Enjoy some delicious Kosher gelato before heading off to your city tour including the Forum, Palatine Hill, Arch of Titus and the Colosseum.
• Florence – you’ll start off with a stop at the magnificent Tower of Pisa where you’ll get a chance to take some once-in-a-lifetime pictures. The tour then continues into Florence where your guide will walk you through the Jewish and Renaissance history. This is followed by a beautiful walking tour through the amazing Piazza where you’ll also have plenty of time to shop!
• Venice – this pre-cruise walking tour is full of information about the incredible Jewish Ghetto in Venice. You will venture through the Cannaregio district discovering hidden and curious corners and then continue towards S. Giovanni e Paolo, considered one of the most beautiful campo of Venice. Then again through hidden path of the city and you will end up in S. Marc's square - the most prominent place in Venice.





Cruising Tips

Air Travel

Passports will be required for any air travel from the Caribbean as of January 23, 2007. ALL persons, including U.S. citizens, traveling by air between the United States and Canada, Mexico and South America, the Caribbean and Bermuda will be required to present a valid passport.

Cruise Travel

As early as January 1st, 2008, subject to U.S. Government amendment, ALL persons, including U.S. citizens, traveling between the United States and Canada, Mexico, Central and South America, the Caribbean and Bermuda may be required to present a valid passport or other documents as determined by the Department of Homeland Security.

Can I phone home?

Ship-to-shore telephone service is available 24 hours a day while the ship is at sea or in port from your stateroom. You'll find a telephone and dialing instructions in your stateroom.
If you need to be reached by people at home, have them call or fax the ship directly; or they can contact you via email through your own Internet Service Provider which you can then access via the Internet Café.


Is internet service available?

You can send and receive emails through your own service provider in the Internet Café for a nominal charge.

How do I plan my on-shore activities?

Naturally, you are free to explore many of the ports of call on your own, however, a variety of shore excursion are arranged for you convenience. Each excursion is carefully researched by our Shore Excursion Staff to ensure your experience ashore is as enriching and enjoyable as your stay aboard. You may pre-book your excursions online by selecting Personalize Your Cruise. You will need to enter your booking number and your name as it appears on your reservation. The excursion selected will be debited to you onboard account . Or, if you prefer, you may purchase the shore excursion onboard at the Shore Excursion Desk. Shore Excursions are subject to availability and not available on all ships and sail dates.

What about laundry and dry cleaning services?

Complete valet services including laundry, pressing and dry cleaning, can be arranged through your stateroom steward/stewardess and billed to your shipboard account.


For more information about our amazing cruises – click HERE.

For General Packing tips click HERE.

Click HERE for upcoming cruise dates.

Travel Documents


You are responsible for obtaining all travel documents as well as compliance with Customs and Immigration requirements. You will be required to comply with all government imposed security measures, which may change without notice.

Visa Requirements:


All passengers are responsible for obtaining all necessary travel documents and for complying with Customs and Immigration requirements.

Please check current VISA requirements with the appropriate embassies or consulates prior to departing on your cruise vacation. Kosherica is providing this application for your convenience.



Kosherica is not responsible for the accuracy of information provided herein. Please contact www.visahq.com with any questions.


Guests without proper travel documents will not be allowed to board the vessel. If for some reason you must leave the ship mid-cruise, you will be denied re-entry into the U.S. unless you possess a valid U.S. passport and no refund of cruise fare will be given to any guest failing to bring such documentation. Kosherica encourages all guests to obtain passports as soon as possible to avoid backlogs. For more information, please visit the U.S State department website at www.travel.state.gov.

Destination Information

Venice (NYTIMES)

Though you can still see the recesses in the walls where the hinges of the portals once hung, the Venice ghetto has not been a prison since Napoleon seized the city and tore down the gates in 1797. Today, no barrier or signpost marks where Venice ends and its ghetto begins. Cross a canal on an arched bridge, duck through a sottoportego (an alley tunneling through a building), disappear down a vent in the urban fabric — you come and go just like everywhere else in the maze of this island city. But linger long enough in the Campo di Ghetto Nuovo, the generous, frayed, tree-flecked plaza that anchors this corner of Cannaregio (the quiet northwest quadrant of the city) and you’ll feel the wall of the past closing in. Half a millennium of history does not transpire without stamping the soul of a place. Established by decree of Doge Leonardo Loredan on March 29, 1516, the Venice ghetto was one of the first places where people were forcibly segregated and surveilled because of religious difference. The term itself originated here; the area had been used as a foundry (“geto” in Venice dialect) and over time the neighborhood’s polyglot residents corrupted the word to ghetto. I traveled to La Serenissima in December to see how the city was gearing up for the anniversary of the establishment of the ghetto.

But in the course of my visit, what I became most curious about was the mood of the current Jewish community of 450 people. Venice is such an impossibly beautiful fantasy, it seems astonishing that ordinary people, Jews among them, actually live there. How, I wondered, did deep-rooted Jewish families feel about their past — and future — in this ancient, vulnerable city?

My first answer came inside the humble, rectangular sanctuary of the circa-1532 Scuola Canton, one of five synagogues still standing in the ghetto. The synagogues are open to the public only as part of guided tours offered by the Jewish Museum of Venice, and that morning just three of us (two other Americans and I) had signed up for the 10:30 tour in English. We were standing with our guide, Silvia Crepaldi, admiring the golden spiraling tree-trunk columns that support the arch over the bimah (podium), when the subject of rising sea levels came up.

“The city will be empty before it sinks,” Ms. Crepaldi said ruefully. “Venice is shrinking before our eyes.” The urban exodus of both Jews and gentiles has been going on for some time, though the pace has accelerated in recent years.

When the ghetto was at its height in the 17th century, 5,000 Jews from Italy, Germany, France, Spain and the Ottoman Empire carved out tiny, distinct fiefs, each maintaining its own synagogue, all of them crammed into an acre and a quarter of alleys and courtyards. Confinement was a burden, but it also provided an opportunity for cultural exchange unparalleled in the diaspora. As Jan Morris, a Venice devotee and one-time resident, writes in “The World of Venice,” the city was a “treasure-box” full of “ivory, spices, scents, apes, ebony, indigo, slaves, great galleons, Jews, mosaics, shining domes, rubies, and all the gorgeous commodities of Arabia, China and the Indies.”

Jewish merchants and bankers were vital to the flow of these commodities, but as Venice declined, the Jewish presence dwindled. By the outbreak of the Second World War, Jewish Venice had shrunk to 1,200 residents. Today, with the city’s total population hovering around 58,000 (down from 150,000 before the war), there are about 450 Venetian Jews left, only a handful of them residing in the ghetto.

“So now the ghetto is just a shell?” I wondered aloud as Ms. Crepaldi led us across the campo, over a bridge, down a street of intriguing-looking shops, and into a tighter, grimmer square (the Campiello delle Scuole or “little square of the synagogues”), flanked by the two Sephardic scuole.

VENICE The answer to my question was revealed inside one of these: the sumptuous Scuola Grande Spagnola (Great Spanish Synagogue), possibly the work of Baldassare Longhena, the renowned 17th-century architect of Santa Maria della Salute. After we had gazed our fill at the elliptical coffered ceiling and the black-columned pediment that frames the ark of the covenant; after we had craned our necks to glimpse the cherry wood balustrade and diamond-hatched panels that screen the upstairs women’s gallery; after our eyes had bathed in the silver gleam of candelabra and the soft glow of crimson-curtained bottle-glass window panes, Ms. Crepaldi pointed to the brass plaques affixed to the pews. “These are the names of families who pay to rent their own bench sections,” she told us. “These families still pray here. This synagogue is used in summer, and in winter they switch to the Scuola Levantina because it’s heated. The Venetian Jewish community may be small, but it’s still strong.”

Calimani and Sullam — two of the surnames inscribed on those plaques — appeared in tiny letters by the buzzer I pressed at 10 o’clock the next morning. Riccardo Calimani, the esteemed historian of Italian Jewry and the author of a book about the Venetian ghetto, had given me very precise directions to his home off the Strada Nuova (a rare rectilinear thoroughfare stocked with shops catering more to residents than tourists).

What Mr. Calimani had neglected to say in his email is that he lives in a palace: a light-bedazzled, soaring-ceilinged, art- and book-lined Renaissance suite overlooking the Grand Canal. As he ushered me into his princely study, the ample, urbane Mr. Calimani struck me as a kind of latter-day Jewish doge.

“My father’s family arrived in Venice from the north of Italy in 1508,” he said, slowing his Italian down to a tempo I could follow. “My ancestor Simone Calimani was the author of a trattato morale [moral treatise], printed in the 18th century when Jewish publishing was flourishing here. My grandfather was the cantor in the Scuola Levantina, even though our roots are not Levantine but Italian and German.” The Venetian history of the Calimani family, I realized, coincides almost exactly with the history of the ghetto.

The palace belongs to his wife’s family, the Sullams, Spanish Jews who took refuge in Venice after the expulsion from the Iberian Peninsula at the end of the 15th century. I knew, from reading Mr. Calimani’s “The Ghetto of Venice” (1988), that Italian and German Jews, the first and poorest to settle in Venice, had been consigned to selling rags and running pawnshops, while the great merchants of Venice were later arrivals from Spain and the Levant.

With tantalizing fragrances wafting out of the hidden kitchen and the velvety light of winter burnishing thousands of leather spines, I could practically taste the history that had made this room possible. The palace may be extraordinary, but the convergence of cosmopolitan currents in the Calimani/Sullam household is quintessentially Venetian.

Their families’ abandonment of the ghetto is also typical. As soon as the ghetto was abolished in 1797, Jews with means fled the high-rise tenements — the tallest buildings with the lowest-ceilinged apartments in Venice — for more elegant, and spacious, parts of the city. But the ghetto remained the anchor of Venetian Jewry. Since travel by gondola was deemed permissible on the Sabbath, the observant had no trouble floating back each week to pray at the scuola of their choice.

Today, the Jews of Venice, though still a proud (if dispersed) community, are invisible. (The black-garbed Hasids you see in the campo are not Venetian but followers of the Chabad-Lubavitch movement who have resettled here from other parts of Europe and the United States.) Mr. Calimani, like every local Jew I spoke to, said he moves unremarked in and out of Jewish circles. “The Venice ghetto,” he told me, “was always more open to the city than the Roman ghetto, which was beset by the conversion mania of the church.”

The dispersal of the community had the unexpected benefit of sending me into unfamiliar neighborhoods in pursuit of interviews. I had been in Venice twice before, but far from growing accustomed to its gorgeous strangeness, I found it endlessly fascinating just to thread the maze, and inevitably get lost in it, on my way to appointments.

Ms. Calabi became more somber when the conversation turned to the present. “Renaissance scholar Francesco Sansovino wrote that for the Jews, Venice was ‘quasi una vera terra di promissione’ — practically a true promised land,” she said. “But today Jewish Venice is a small community within a small city. The 500th anniversary is an occasion not to celebrate — you don’t have a festival for a ghetto — but to commemorate. An unbroken stretch of 500 years of history will not happen again soon.”

I heard similar sentiments voiced later in the week at a packed meeting of an informal discussion group that gathers at intervals to consider issues pertinent to Venetian Jewry. The members had assembled that night in a pretty little house on a canal in Cannaregio near the Gesuiti Church, a Baroque pile that presides over a quarter once inhabited by artisans and artists (Titian and Tintoretto among them). My Italian, though not quite up to the rapid flow of ideas, was good enough to register the passion and erudition that these 30 or so men and women brought to a discussion of their deeply rooted community.

Amos Luzzatto, an esteemed Venetian-Jewish intellectual and the past president of the Jewish Community of Venice, was present, and we chatted for a few minutes about the small Jewish cemetery on the Lido, the “beit midrash” (study room) named for his family that is still in use in the ghetto, and the book by his renowned ancestor Rabbi Simchah Luzzatto that I had spotted in the Jewish Museum.

I didn’t have a chance to ask Mr. Luzzatto how he felt about the state of the ghetto today, but as I picked my way back to SS. Giovanni e Paolo through deserted echoing alleys and over black filaments of water, I thought of a comment he had made in a recent interview posted on YouTube: “The ghetto today belongs to the city of Venice — it does not belong to the Jews. The ghetto has become part of the panorama of Venice.”

The panorama was its most ravishing the day I met Venice’s head rabbi, Scialom Bahbout, for lunch in the campo. Maybe it was the dazzle of another clear December day or the adrenaline of the holidays (Hanukkah was ending, Christmas still a week away), but the campo, which had struck me as rather forlorn on prior trips, now looked like a stage set waiting for a play. (In fact, this summer’s production of “The Merchant of Venice” will be staged right here, notes Shaul Bassi, a professor at the University of Venice who is spearheading the production.)

Mothers pushed strollers in and out of shadows cast by the teetering ghetto “skyscrapers.” Booted and scarfed Venetians clicked their heels across a bridge and disappeared into the inviting trattorias that line the fondamenta (bank) of the Rio della Misericordia canal. A small knot of tourists hovered by the entrance to the Jewish Museum, a charming warren of rooms stuffed with precious objects and books (and slated for a major makeover later this year under the aegis of Venetian Heritage, an international organization dedicated to preserving the city’s cultural riches). I had just enough time before lunch to duck down an alley and browse the elegant Judaica pieces in glass and gold at Arte Ebraica Shalom.

The one jarring note was the makeshift police booth at the far end of the campo. Though there have been no attacks here, the booth is staffed around the clock by Italian police, rarely seen elsewhere in Venice, and the Jewish community has brought in its own private Israeli security guard. The juxtaposition of the armed police and the two Holocaust memorials (a series of bronze reliefs on either side of the Jewish old-age home that encloses one side of the campo) is apt. During the Nazi occupation, some 250 Venetian Jews, including its beloved chief rabbi Adolfo Ottolenghi, were seized from the ghetto and elsewhere in the city and sent to Auschwitz and a Trieste concentration camp. Eight returned.

The conversation touched only briefly on the Holocaust in the course of my leisurely lunch with the rabbi at Ghimel Garden, the popular kosher restaurant that opened recently beside the old-age home. Davide Federici, a local journalist, and the Venetian sculptor Giorgio Bortoli were present, and Rabbi Bahbout, who is highly regarded after two years in the community, seemed entirely in his element as the talk rambled around art, politics, history, cinema and food.

“Did you know sarde in saor” — sweet and sour sardines, a ubiquitous winter appetizer in Venice — “is typically Jewish?” the rabbi asked as the first round of plates appeared beside our glasses of prosecco. I was aware of the influence of ancient Jewish recipes on Roman cuisine, but it never occurred to me there was anything Jewish about the food of Venice, where shellfish (not kosher) figures in so many dishes. I’d also never seen an Orthodox rabbi sipping prosecco.

By the time the pasta arrived, the conversation had moved on to the rabbi’s dream project: a Jewish university in Venice. “The challenge today is to sustain the vivacity of our culture and carry it into the future. What better way than with an international Jewish university?” In Venice today, conservation tends to dominate other concerns — “but what we really need is to construct the next 500 years.”

The rabbi’s American-born wife, Lenore Rosenberg Bahbout, joined us for pinza, a thrifty confection of stale bread and spice. We were chuckling about all the celebrities (Barbra Streisand, Donna Karan, Diane von Furstenberg, Barry Diller) whom Toto Bergamo Rossi, the charming director of Venetian Heritage, had tapped to fund the ghetto restoration project. “It’s wonderful,” said Mrs. Bahbout. “But it would be even more wonderful if this money could be used to restore the soul of the ghetto.”

I contemplated the soul that Saturday morning, my last in Venice, at the Shabbat service in the Scuola Levantina. The high, dim sanctuary was about a quarter full, perhaps 40 men scattered around the benches that ran the length of the room between the massively carved bimah and the red-curtained ark of the covenant, with 15 or so women peering down at us from the upstairs gallery.

I’d been in Venice less than a week, but already I recognized faces — Paolo Gnignati, the current president of the Jewish community; Elly, the strapping Israeli security guard who had warned “no cellphones — they’re Orthodox!” before letting me enter the synagogue; and of course Rabbi Bahbout, distinguished and elegant in his fedora as he chanted the Sephardic liturgy.

Every Venetian I spoke to, Jew and gentile alike, had expressed deep pessimism about the city’s future. But as I sat in this sacred space in the hushed, carless city, listening to the Hebrew prayers and Italian murmur, I felt reassured, not discouraged, by the evidence of time. Since the ghetto was first established, doges, merchant princes, Shylock, Napoleon, the Austrians, the Nazis have come and gone (and in Shylock’s case, will soon return). Through that half-millennium of history, Jews have gathered on Sabbath mornings like this one at the serene cusp of winter to pray and gossip in the Venice ghetto.

The Jewish Museum of Venice is open from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Oct. 1 to May 31 and until 7 p.m. from June 1 to Sept. 30. Hourly guided tours of the synagogues (in Italian and English) start at 10:30 ( museum admission is €4; museum and synagogue tour is €10). The museum also offers tours of the Jewish cemetery on the Lido, with advance booking. Closed Saturdays and Jewish holidays. For more information, museoebraico.it/english/museo.html.

The Kosher in Venice website, kosherinvenice.com, lists kosher restaurants, hotels and food shops in the ghetto, including Ristorante Ghimel Garden, the recently opened Giardino dei Melograniguesthouse, and Panificio Volpe Giovanni, a bakery and grocery.

The Jewish Traveler: Corfu

By Esther Hecht February/March 2012

Corfu
Corfu town as seen from the Old Fortress.
Photo courtesy of Greek Tourism.


Corfu, one of the greenest and prettiest of the Greek islands, is also the best fortified. The two massive stone fortresses overlooking Corfu town succeeded in keeping the Ottoman Turks out. Both the Old Fortress and the new one were built by the Venetians, who ruled the island for more than four centuries. The Venetians also left their mark on this Ionian isle in still-extant multistory gabled houses packed tightly together, their arched colonnades lining flagstone-paved lanes.

History

Jews have lived in Corfu at least since 1160. They came first from the Balkan peninsula, from Romaniote (Greek-speaking) communities. They were persecuted by both Byzantine and Anjou rulers, but in the 14th century they obtained some rights, including documents of protection and exemption from most taxes. They owned land, including vineyards.

They prospered under Venetian rule (1386-1797), lending money to the Venetian rulers, provisioning the army and even joining the ranks. They also financed public works, including construction of a bridge. But the local inhabitants kept attacking them, and in 1622 the doge ordered the Jews to move to a ghetto for their protection.

During the Turkish siege of 1716, Jews contributed to the Venetian war effort and two were noted for their bravery. August 6, the date the siege ended, was celebrated in the synagogue.

After the expulsion of Jews from Spain and Portugal, some settled in Corfu. They and Jews expelled from Naples joined the small Italian community, which was mainly from Sicily and Apulia. Until World War II, there was constant friction between the Romaniote and Italian Jews in Corfu; they even maintained separate cemeteries. The two joined forces only for a few charitable or economic causes, for example, redeeming Jewish captives held for ransom in Malta.

Until the 15th century, Jews lived within the Old Fortress, as did other residents, but later were forbidden to worship there. Newcomers lived outside the fortress in an area called Jews’ Mountain.

During the Venetian period, Jews exported cotton, salt, wine, olive oil, etrogs, silk and gold fabric and works of art. They were also bankers, doctors and clerks.

Corfughetto A building in the old ghetto. Photo by Esther Hecht.

Jews had close ties with the Land of Israel; in the 19th century, they collected money to buy land near Hebron.

Corfu was a center of Torah learning and of the composition of liturgical poems, but most of the leading rabbis originally came from elsewhere.

When Napoleon conquered Corfu in 1797, he gave the Jews equal rights. More Jews came from Italy and the Ottoman Empire, and by 1802 the community had grown to 1,229 (of 45,000 inhabitants).

But when Corfu became a British protectorate in 1815, though cultural life blossomed and magnificent buildings were erected, the Jews lost their civil and political rights. In 1856, a blood libel led to continuing attacks by Greeks.

Nevertheless, Jews supported the unification with Greece in 1864, following which they received equal rights. Three Jews joined the city council, one became a mayor and one became a deputy mayor.

But the new prosperity and political activity of the Jews aroused resentment, and a second blood libel was spread in 1891. A month-long pogrom ensued, which the authorities tried to control by keeping the ghetto under curfew.

After this, about one-quarter of Corfu’s Jews immigrated to other parts of Greece and to Turkey, Italy, Egypt and England.

Two blood libels, in 1915 and 1918, caused additional emigration. In the early 20th century, Zionist organizations were established and some Jews left for Palestine.

On the eve of World War II, Corfu had 2,000 Jews, two-thirds in the Italian community and one-third in the Romaniote. Under the Italian occupation, from April 1941 to September 1943, the Jews were relatively safe. But then the Germans invaded. By April 1944, they had lists of all the Jews, who had to attend frequent roll calls on the Spianada (esplanade).

On June 9, some 1,800 Jews were brought to the Kato Plateia (lower square) and then held nearby in the Old Fortress, where they were forced to hand over their valuables. By June 17, all had been transported by sea and land to Athens. From there they were taken by train to Auschwitz, where 1,600 were immediately sent to the gas chambers.

The few survivors were joined in Corfu by survivors from other places, in total 185 souls. By 1948, there were only 125 Jews, and by 1958 only about 85.

Corfusynagogue
La Scuola Greca. Photo by Esther Hecht.

Community

Lino Soussis, 62, who headed the community until recently, remembers joyful Passovers in his parents’ home, with many Jewish sailors from the United States Sixth Fleet as guests. His mother prepared panada (pieces of matza in beef broth), pigadinio (minced meat pie made with matza) and pasta di mandorle (a creamy almond paste).

But bitter memories loom in the community’s consciousness. Moshe Velelis, 57, the current community head, has a clothing and textile shop in the former ghetto just a few yards from the synagogue. He keeps at the shop the striped shirt his father wore in Auschwitz.

In 2011, clerics and politicians denounced a Passover arson attack on the synagogue that destroyed some prayer books, but it was a reminder that anti-Semitism persists.

Corfu has some 60 Jews, including doctors, engineers, mathematicians and businesspeople. “There was also a prostitute, but she died,” Soussis says. Only a few Jews live in the ghetto, but the area is still called Evraiki (Jewish).

The community celebrates Passover together with a Seder and services, and a cantor from abroad leads High Holiday prayers in the synagogue, but there is no regular minyan. The last Jewish wedding was that of Velelis, in 1993. The last brit mila was the same year.

Sights

Corfu town is a delight for walkers; but if your feet are tired, try a horse-and-buggy ride.

Starting from the southern end of Eleftherias Street, walk along the Liston promenade, with its row of cafés overlooking the Old Fortress and the greenery of the esplanade. At the northern end of Eleftherias stands the Asian Art Museum (011-30-26610-30443), formerly the Greek king’s winter palace.

It was on the Kato Plateia, the square between the cafés and the Old Fortress, that the Germans ordered the Jews in the spring of 1944 to report for roll calls and gathered them prior to deportation.

Turn left from Eleftherias on Agios Spyridon Street, passing the Church of Agios Spyridon, the patron saint of the island. Outside the church is a bust of the late Bishop Methodius, who used to attend all holiday services at the Greek synagogue.

Turn right on Philharmonica Street and left on Philellinon Street, noting the oldest balcony in Corfu at No. 18. Take the third left on Parodos Komninon to reach Plateia Taxiarhon, passing the Venetian well along the way. Before Jews lived in the ghetto, they lived here, in a part of the Campielo quarter that was known as Evreo Vuni (Jews’ Mountain.)

CorfuOldTown2
Alley shopping in Old Town. Photo by Esther Hecht.

Proceed to Solomou Street, which was the northern boundary of the ghetto. The other boundaries were Palaiologou Street (east), Voulgareos Street (south) and Scholembourg Street (west).

Off Solomou, in Plateia Neou Frouriou (New Fortress Square), just in front of the wall of the New Fortress, stands a bronze Holocaust memorial consisting of a nude group: a woman cradling an infant and a man seemingly helpless to protect a boy who hides his face in the man’s thigh. This sculpture by Georgios Karahalios on a stone base was erected in 2001 by the city and the Jewish community. A plaque on the memorial states “Never again for any nation.”

From Solomou turn right on Agia Sofia Street. A red sign there points to the Old Fortress and to the synagogue. Just opposite the sign is Velelis’s shop.

Of the four synagogues that existed in the ghetto before World War II, only the Greek one—La Scuola Greca—remains. Next door lie the ruins of the Talmud Torah.

The synagogue (open daily 10 to 4; Velisariou Street) is a yellow stucco, two-story structure with a gabled roof, built in the 18th century. In June 2002, 58 years after the deportation of Corfu’s Jews, a memorial plaque that bears their family names was placed inside the synagogue.

Like Venetian synagogues, the sanctuary here is on the upper floor. Baroque gilt-topped pillars support the entablature and dome above the Ark, which is surrounded by a wooden balustrade with an elaborately carved gate.

As in Venetian (and also Romaniote) synagogues, the Torah is read at the rear of the rectangular sanctuary from a teiva, or raised podium, with four columns supporting a cupola and richly gilded carvings. The benches run lengthwise so that, as Soussis explains, worshipers need not turn their backs on the Ark.

Several street names record the Jewish past. To the east of and parallel to the synagogue is Alvertou Koen Street (the Greek form of novelist Albert Cohen’s name). The next street, Lazarou Mordou, is named for a prominent Jewish doctor (Lazar Shabbetai de Mordo). And the next street after that is named Evraion Thymaton Nazismou—“Jewish Victims of Nazism.”

Other Sights

In 1993, Yad Vashem in Jerusalem honored Princess Alice for having hidden Rachel Cohen and two of her children in Athens from the end of 1943 until liberation. In 1994, Philip and his sister, Princess George of Hanover, planted a tree at Yad Vashem in their mother’s honor. It was the first visit of a British royal to Israel since 1948. Alice died in 1969 and was reinterred on Jerusalem’s Mount of Olives in 1988, in accordance with her wishes.

From Mon Repos return to Corfu town and proceed six miles southwest in the direction of Gastouri, where, in 1890, the beautiful and strong-minded Empress Elisabeth (Sissi) of Austria built a summer residence she named Achilleion (30-26610-56245) and filled it with sculpture and art related to the Homeric hero Achilles.

She also displayed a full-size sculpture of the German Jewish poet Heinrich Heine, whom she admired. But when the German Kaiser Wilhelm II bought the palace after her assassination in 1898, he did not want the statue. Heine’s publisher and friend Julius Campe brought it to Hamburg. The city refused to display it until 1956, when it was finally erected in town hall square.

Side Trip

The brightly lit church of Agios Dionysios beckons to visitors arriving at night by ferry to Zakynthos, the southernmost of the Ionian islands. In gratitude for the islanders’ help during World War II, the local Jewish community donated the stained-glass windows of the church.

Jews lived on the island from at least the start of the 15th century and had strong commercial and family ties with the Jewish community in Corfu.

The Germans occupied the island in 1943, appointed Lucas Karrer mayor and demanded a list of the Jews. Instead, Metropolitan Chrysostemos Dimitrious bribed the German commander, and the partisans threatened to attack. Bishop Vassily Stravolmos wired Hitler, asking him not to deport the Jews.

The Germans again demanded a list. This time they received one, but it bore only two names: Karrer’s and the metropolitan’s. When the Germans nevertheless brought boats to deport the Jews, Karrer told them to flee, and nearly the entire community was saved.

After the war, most left for Palestine, some illegally in 1946 on a ship named the Henrietta Szold.

The Shalom Synagogue, at 44 Tertseti Street in the city center, was destroyed by the 1953 earthquake that effectively put an end to the Jewish community. Busts of Karrer and Chrysostemos appear on two marble scrolls, and a plaque expresses gratitude to them and the people of Zakynthos.

To reach the Jewish cemetery, take Tertseti north (it becomes Kolyva Street), turn left on Verikiou Street and right on Filikon Street. The cemetery is off Filikon, next to Agiou Georgiou Filikon Church.

Books, Film

Lawrence Durrell, his brother, Gerald, and other members of their British family moved to Corfu in 1935. Prospero’s Cell: A Guide to the Landscape and Manners of the Island of Corcyra (Corfu; Axios Press) is Durrell’s coming-of-age memoir. He was married to Eve Cohen, of Alexandria, and later to Claude-Marie Vincendon, a descendent of the Montefiore family.

Naturalist Gerald Durrell wrote about the period in Corfu in a comic account, My Family and Other Animals (Penguin). The story was adapted for television, and filmed on location in Corfu. It ran in America on PBS’s Masterpiece Theater.

Farewell My Island (www.act1presentations.com), a brief documentary by Isaac Dostis, relates the roundup and deportation of the Jews from Corfu and includes survivor testimonies (in Greek, with English subtitles). It is 22 minutes long, precisely the time it took to get from the roundup area to the deportation barges.

Personalities

Dr. de Mordo (1744-1823) supported Corfu’s union with Greece. He founded the first Greek doctors association and published a Greek guide to the island’s flora.

Novelist and playwright Albert Cohen (1895-1985), who lived most of his life in Geneva and wrote in French, was born Avraham Cohen in Corfu. The family left for France in 1900. A large plaque on the synagogue’s outer wall bears the inscription: “A child was born in this neighborhood and here he took his first steps. That child was Albert Cohen.” He is the author of a trilogy about the Jews of the Ionian island of Kefalonia, but the novel that is considered his masterpiece, Belle du Seigneur, is set in Geneva in the 1930s. It appeared in English as Her Lover (Penguin).

French singer and songwriter Georges Moustaki was born in Alexandria to parents who came from Corfu. Two of his songs are said to have become resistance hymns to the Greek military junta.

Kotor

The first traces of Jewish presence in Montenegro date from ancient Duklja, whose ruins are located close to the centre of Podgorica, the capital of Montenegro. Archaeologists have ascertained that the graves discovered in its necropolis had belonged to Jews.

In the Middle Ages Jews lived within the borders of present-day Montenegro in areas surrounding today’s towns of Pljevlja, Plav, Gusinj, Bijelo Polje, Berane and Ulcinj, which used to be ruled by the Ottoman Empire. Most of those Jews were Sephardim who came to our country from Spain and Portugal via Bosnia, or directly from Constantinople, at the beginning of the 16th century.

At the beginning of the 17th century, Šabataj Cevi, who proclaimed himself messiah and had a great number of followers, lived, worked and most likely was buried in Ulcinj. In her work “Traces of Jews in the Bay of Kotor” Lenka Blehova Celebic emphasizes the influence Jews had on the development of commerce in those regions, especially in organizing international commerce. Isaije Koen, a famous Portuguese doctor and poet of Jewish origin, better known as Flavio Eborenze Didako Piro, who wrote a book about his exile, was buried in Herceg Novi.

After wars with Napoleon and the occupation of the Bay of Kotor and another part of today’s Montenegrin coast by Austria, a larger number of Jewish people reappeared in that region. They were mostly concentrated in Kotor, as it was the administrative center. It should be mentioned that Jews were also present in these regions earlier. The fact that one part of Kotor’s cemetery was reserved for Jewish inhumations testifies to the respect Jews in the Bay of Kotor have enjoyed. A particular parcel was located near the main entrance to the cemetery and close to the main cemetery chapel, which was not customary. Today the cemetery is in relatively good condition and it is regularly maintained.

Montenegro can be proudly commended for being one of a few regions in Europe where the Holocaust was not carried out in an organized way. Unfortunately, after Italy had capitulated, between September 1943 and February 1944 the Gestapo managed to identify most remaining Jews in Montenegro. The majority was taken to concentration camps in small groups where they have experienced the same fate like the rest.

COMMUNITY

The Jewish community in Montenegro is one of the youngest Jewish communities in the world. At the end of January 2012 the Jewish community and the government signed the Act on Mutual Relations.

Montenegro is a highly multiconfessional country and there is no public manifestation of anti-Semitism. Moreover there is great respect for Jewish people and their contribution to the world civilization.

According to the last census, about 400 Jews live in Montenegro. Among them there are about 100 who are actively involved with the community. The Community it is very vibrant and active in different fields, especially in organizing “Mahar Conference”, central meeting point for Jewish communities of the Balkan region. This conference aims to prevent the assimilation of the Jews in the region and with the goal to establish cooperation between the region's Jewish communities.

The community has been granted an attractive location in a central area of Podgorica to build a synagogue and Jewish cultural center. The project design for the object has been finalized and the Community is now in the process of fundraising. In the meantime, one large part of the Community office has been turned it into synagogue.

Santorini

Even if you’ve never been to this Cyclades island in the Aegean Sea, you’d still recognize it immediately – candy-colored houses carved into cliffs, sapphire waters, gleaming white buildings topped with half-spheres the color of a stormy sky. Here you’ll find peace as you roam the black sand beaches or the streets of a provincial village like Imerovigli. Beautiful Oia is world famous for its sunsets, which seem tinted with every shade of an artist’s palette.

Mykonos

If the mention of Mykonos doesn’t immediately bring to mind bright white buildings, turquoise skies and golden sandy beaches, you’ve been living under a rock. The most popular Greek Island in the Aegean Sea is all about energy and attracts a diverse and upscale crowd that thrives on its stylish nightlife. During the day some privacy can be had in the more secluded north beaches, but the south beaches are all party. Ski, jet-ski, windsurf, horseback ride, parasail or just save up your energy for the evening ahead, like most of your fellow travelers in Mykonos.



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