Date: Oct 21/2020
Place : A Walk in Town with Eva
By: Lili Naveh
Thanks to Klair - we had the good fortune to also meet Eva.
Klair the Corfu Town's girl with the long swim fins, whom I mentioned we encountered coming out after her morning swim, arranged for Eva and us to
meet when we inquired about a tour guide.
Eva, though is not a formal tour guide, is definitely most knowledgeable and skillful in many also other fields. She had kindly volunteered to take us for a tour of the town and its Jewish history, and had guided us until late afternoon.
During our walk when we passed by Klair's pharmacy, I realized that even prior to properly meeting Klair, I visited her pharmacy, where that was the only one in which I could find and bought some Zinc pills. Serendipity at work..
Ana, Klair and David in front of Klair's Pharmacy
Eva is a Jew by conversion and absolutely identifies with the people of the tribe, is immersed in the culture, is dedicated to the Corfu Jewish Community affairs, and loves Israel unconditionally.
Furthermore, she is a volunteer in the Red Cross, in the Scouts and other many associations. But most of all she has a big heart, is very friendly and kind.
She professionally runs a family business of moderately priced Rental Vacation
(Kamari Apt. Acharavi)
And she is the secretary of the Albert Cohen Association in Corfu.
(more about the foundation below).
Ana was married to the Corfu Jewish Community's President and seems to know, on her own merits, almost half of the people in town.
Throughout our walk we stopped every few alleys to greet either her, or her only daughters' childhood classmates, few cousins, and professional associates.
The Music School and the Music Museum
By which we stop first, on our walk, are housed in an old beautiful building of the Music Society in Corfu Town. It has a history of almost two centuries from when the Philharmonic Society of Corfu was founded in 1840 by a team of well-educated Corfiots and its aim was to perform on European standards.
The small library woodwork for the musical notes and and books is beautiful
Also passing by a small old bookstore establishment from centuries before Amazon was created, is worth piping into
While proceeding toward the Jewish Quarter Eva shared her fascination with the Corfioti dialect - spoken for many years by the Jews of Corfu and which has been lost.
It is a local Greek dialect (like Ladino was), with a mix of Italian, Hebrew and other lingual words of an ethnic and linguistic ties to the Republic of Venice, that was spoken among and could be understood only by Jews and used by them for business purposes.
The Corfu Jews, (as already mentioned in my log from Sept 26) had the commercial sense, artisan skills and the know-how, which made them most qualified in providing most of the needed services, production of necessities, and running of businesses to sell their products, to the town's inhabitants.
Many of the small quaint shops in the town's narrow alleys, once belonged to Jewish merchants.
The Jewish quarter was also the one that was heavily hit and
destroyed by the German bombing during WWII. Ruins of
property not re-claimed by those who perished or by survivors and their descendents, can still be detected.
Actually the Corfu Jewish Community Association main role is to manage
such unclaimed assets, which provide income used for the community maintenance and reconstructing projects.
Albert Cohen Corfu” is a culturally oriented Association founded in 2011 in Corfu, with the intention to promote the principles of Corfu-born humanist, diplomat and author Albert Cohen.
The Association's activities are purely voluntary and are financed by its members and friends. “
A Corfu -born Romaniote Jewish Swiss novelist (1895 – October 17, 1981) Albert Cohen family like many of other established Jewish families, departed the Island of Corfu, at the end of 19thc, following blood libels, and had wandered between Egypt, Spain France Switzerland or then Palestine.
He wrote in French and worked as a civil servant for various international organizations, such as the International Labour Organization.
Albert's parents, who owned a soap factory, moved to Marseille, France, when he was a child. Albert Cohen discusses this period in his novel "Le Livre de ma mère" (The Book of my Mother).
In 1914, he left Marseille for Geneva, Switzerland, and enrolled in Law school. In 1919, he became a Swiss citizen.
In 1925, Cohen became director of Revue Juive (The Jewish Review), a periodical whose writers included Albert Einstein and Sigmund Freud. From 1926 to 1931, he served as a civil servant in Geneva
During the German occupation, in 1940, Cohen fled to Bordeaux, then to London.
The Jewish Agency for Palestine then made him responsible for establishing contacts with exiled governments
In 1944, he became an attorney for the Intergovernmental Committee for Refugees issuing entry visas to paperless refugees.In 1957, he turned down the post of Israeli Ambassador in order to pursue his literary career.
His masterpiece, "Belle du Seigneur", originally included the novel that was later published as Les Valeureux- "the book of love" for which in 1968 he received the French Academy award.
Ruins of the Soap Factory which belonged to Albert Cohen's Family
Jewish Old Retirement Home bombed in WWII
On our walk with Eva we found to our amazement and delight that the Jewish Synagogue, which was closed during yom Kippur, was opened this afternoon
Having Eva as our "good will ambassador" we had no difficulties getting in
and finding the reason why the Synagogue was opened up.
Commemoration List of the Corfu Jewish Families who perished in the holocaust
RENEWAL -Exhibit at the Synagogue
The lovely Athenian Jewish artist - Artemis Alcalay who greeted us at the entrance informed us about an upcoming exhibit being curated now at the Synagogue, by Eugenia Alexaki
A Photo research Project on 8 native Corflute Greek Jews survivors of the Holocaust will be showcased at the Synagogue from Oct 25- to Nov 29/2020
Some members of the known Ventura family, mentioned also on the commemoration tablet hung at the Synagogue will be seen at the exhibit.
The exhibit will arrive at Israel to Beit Hatfutsot only in 2014
Eva and the Artist Artemis in the Synagogue
100 years ago the Corfolots exhibited a poor appreciation to their unique architectural and cultural heritage, and for commercial expansion demands
had demolished the historical, grandest (out of 3) Venetian entrance Gate, which was part of the city's massive fortifications..
The systemic eradication of the defense structure and WWII bombings, erased many of the old town's historical treasurers.
The Royal Gate stood once, on the country-side, where the wider commercial Blv. with the newer shops at the top end of the historical Jewish quarter existed..
Royal Gate - Porta Real- demolished in the 19th c
Also the beautiful Opera Theater building, a small version of the Milan's La Scala, which once stood next to the old thick defence walls and gate, but was damaged during a Luftwaffe aerial bombardment in 1943, was completely demolished by the Corfulots for the same reasons. The Municipal Theatre of Corfu was the main theatre and opera house in Corfu, from 1902 to 1943.
Instead for the beautiful historical Opera building, a modern ugly structure was erected
The theater of San Giacomo , at Mayor Square, was named a Catholic cathedral in Corfu. Established in 1693 as a gathering place of the Venetian nobility of Corfu and was converted into a theater in 1720 and became the first modern theater founded in Greece. It became the center of Greek opera between 1733 and 1893 . Operas organized continuously , especially from 1771 until 1892 , when the theater was converted to City Hall . It has served as a cultural center.
The theater of San Giacomo Building and the catholic church next to it at Mayor Square
For some other Corfu's historical buildings
Lunch with Ava at the recommended Marina Taverna of the old Jewish quarter which was terrific, also as it brought us the opportunity to have met Viki and her husband.
The elderly couple is originally from Athens but spends at least 6 months of the year in Kassiopi town, (Northeast), where they own a gorgeous private villa up the hill close to the beach, and which they also offered us to privately rent...
Salto - Wine Bar Bistro www.saltowinebar.gr
+30 2661302325 +30 6976956027
To be Continued..