On March 22 and 23, 2024, a series of commemorative events for the Jews of Arta who perished during the Holocaust were organized in Arta by the Municipality and the "Skoufas" Music and Literary Association.

"Arta remembers" was the title of the events which began on 22.3.2024 with a ceremony at the cultural center of the Association "Skoufas", which included welcoming remarks and a reading by students of the 3rd Lyceum of Arta of the "Chronicle of the Jewish Community of Arta" of Raphael Giulis, the last president of the Jewish Community of Arta. The text "Bread" written by the Artinian philologist and writer Katerina Schismenou, which is based on the real story of the family of Mr. Michalis Nikolaos, President of the Association of Lawyres of Arta was read by Panagiotis Andreadis and the music was edited by Antonis Ververis, Konstantinos and Anastasios Lemonis and Andreas Hasiotis.

The "Bread" refers to an event that happened in Arta on March 24, 1944, when Kostas Nikolaou, 20 years old at the times, witnessed the arrest of the city's Jews and their incarceration in the "Orpheas" cinema. Some of his Jewish friends were desperately asking for "bread". The next day, Kostas, supplied with loaves of bread, sees them loaded into their deportation trucks to Auschwitz. Kostas Nikolaou didn't have time to give them the bread...

In the context of the event, eighty years later, the son of Kostas Nikolaou, Michalis, to "fulfill a promise", symbolically handed over to Victor Isaac Eliezer, General Secretary of the Central Board of Jewish Communities in Greece, a replica of the bread, made of clay, by the sculptor Theodoros Papagiannis, in order to be placed in the Holocaust Museum of Greece in Thessaloniki.

The next day in the morning there was a tour of places of Jewish interest by Mr. Theoharis Vadivoulis, historian and researcher of the history of the Jewish Community of Arta and in the afternoon at the Holocaust Memorial in the Square of Jewish Martyrs, a memorial service was held by the hazan Haim Ischakis and Beni Mizan. The cermony ended with the laying of wreaths.

In a solemn atmosphere followed a Memorial March through the Jewish quarter to the gathering point of the Jews of Arta before their deportation.

The events in Arta were attended by the Metropolitan of Arta Kallinikos, the Ambassador of Israel in Greece Noam Katz, the Honorary President of the Jewish Community of Athens Benjamin Albalas, the General Secretary of KIS Victor Eliezer, the Vice-President and Treasurer of the Jewish Community Monis Halegoua and Annita Soussi, the General Secretary of the Jewish Community of Thessaloniki Annita Pinto, the President of the Jewish Community of Larissa Moses Manouach, the President of the Jewish Community of Ioannina Markos Battinos, the President of the Second Generation of Descendants of Holocaust Survivors Bella Aaron, the director of the Hellenic-Israeli chamber of Commerce Souzana Frances, representatives of the church, the government, the Region of Epirus and the local authorities.

"The Bread" by Katerina Schismenou

Unwilling to be separated. In every breakup, we were never ready. Especially when you asked me for bread before you left. Before I lost you for good. Before they took you Mino and Mizan, Gani, Mioni, Eliezer and Saba, Shalom and Matsa, Soussi and Vidal, everyone.

Before the light turned to darkness and smoke. Before you and all of you disappear from the face of the earth. Where did you go, how did you leave? I owed you the bread, the bread that my mother baked for me last night for you, for you. And I ran to find you there in Orpheas, and you were missing, and all of you were gone. Where were you?

Where did you go? What darkness has consumed you? What land do you water? What soil holds you? Which tree has you in its roots? And the bread? My own bread that I was holding under my arm and running to reach you, remained forever in my hands. Heavy legacy. Here, untouched and uneaten, it awaits you, because I waited for you and I still wait for you, even though I have lost hope.

Where the earth blackens the sky, where every breath becomes death, where it snow souls, where there is no bread but only pain. There you went and you never came back and none of you came back. You are lost and so are we all. Where does the darkness come from? From above or from the earth or perhaps from man himself? Black angels around me now. Darkness is coming upon me, there are no horizons, there is no light.

And time, does it punish, will it punish death and injustice, will it punish the bread that was baked and never reached its destination? Bread and the grave. The smell of bread is death now.

Where are your homes and homeland? Where are your children and mother? The bread?

I am here and I will wait for you, I am your country and your brother, I am your friend whom you asked for bread and I did not have it at the time to give it to you, and I never gave it to you.

I stay here and I will wait, I will wait for you, I will wait for you because we are the Bread. Because I am the promise that crossed the Styx and I will swear to it, I will wait for you. Will the place and the people find you again? Will you come back home? The homeland is this bread here. I'm waiting for you everywhere."

*Data from facebook Victor Is. Eliezer