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UFT Hellenic American Educators Association’s annual Greek Heritage Celebration

A shared history

Miller Photography

The Greek School of Plato Dancers perform. More photos >>

Miller Photography

Ikonomopoulos speaks to the educators about a little-known chapter in the history of Greek immigration.

The UFT Hellenic American Educators Association held its annual Greek Heritage Celebration on March 13 at union headquarters with a look at a fascinating — and little-known — chapter of Greek history: the immigration of Greek Orthodox and Romaniote Jews to the United States in the early 1900s and their settlement on the Lower East Side. “This was the best celebration we’ve ever had — we had excellent turnout and everyone was very enthusiastic,” said Deme Sanopolis, the president of the group. Keynote speaker Marcia Haddad Ikonomopoulos, the museum director of the Kehila Kedosha Janina Synagogue in Manhattan, shared details of the history of both groups with the educators. Adding another dimension to the event was entertainment provided by youngsters from the Greek School of Plato Dancers from Brooklyn, who performed traditional folkloric dances from the mainland and islands. “There was a lot of joy — or ‘kefi’ — and it made us appreciate our ancestors even more, what they had to go through to get here,” said Sanopolis.

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