[…] But the mayor [Boutaris] and his efforts have received pushback.
Among other initiatives, the mayor has been promoting public school visits to the existing Jewish Museum of Thessaloniki.
In 2014, about 700 students visited the museum annually; today that figure has soared to more than 7,000, according to museum director Erika Perahia Zemour, a development not welcomed by all educators and parents.
“We have teachers who have told us that they have problems with the parents of kids they bring to the museum,” Zemour said. “Yesterday, for example, I had a teacher from … an area of Thessaloniki that votes 15 percent Golden Dawn, and one of the parents told him ‘Why are you teaching the kids these things? The Holocaust doesn’t exist. It never happened.’”
The mayor credits much of that push-back to anti-Semitism. According to a 2014 survey by the Anti-Defamation League, Greece is the most anti-Semitic country in Europe.
But those within the Jewish community say the mayor’s efforts are making a difference.
“Certainly things have changed since the mayor changed. Minds have been opened and the mayor has done a lot of work so that people can realize the history of the city,” Zemour said. “Finally something is happening. We are making some progress.”
- Read more & listen to the story: In Greece, a city struggles to come to terms with its Jewish past, by Lydia Emmanouilidou