The ‘burning of the Judas’ in the village of Tolo, on the Peloponnese peninsula (Easter 2018). Screenshot via YouTube.
Announcement by the Central Board of Jewish Communities in Greece
During the Easter holidays, various customs take place in our country. One of these is the “burning of the effigy of Judas”, which takes place in some areas of the country. This custom perpetuates stereotyped perceptions against the Jews. It is significant that the custom has almost been eliminated in the rest of Europe.
In the past, we, the Central Board of Jewish Communities in Greece, have repeatedly proceeded with representations to competent bodies in order to stop the custom in our country. The fact that the Church of Greece, with its Synodic Circulars of 1891, 1910 and 1918, demanded that “these customs are expressly forbidden” is of particular significance.
We believe that this custom not only offends the Greek Jewish community but also affects every effort towards the understanding and respect of common values that characterise Judaism and Christianity. We hope that everyone will eventually contribute to the abolition of this custom that does not serve the spirit of love and reconciliation which is conveyed during the days of Easter.
Athens, 11 April 2018
Central Board of Jewish Communities in Greece
Via Leon Saltiel & Παρατηρητήριο ρατσιστικού λόγου στην Ελλάδα
From the official page of Greek National Tourism organization:
On Easter Sunday evening, in the courtyard of Elkomenos Christ Church, you can observe the ancient-old ritual of “Judas Burning” reviving: an effigy of Judas made by wood and straw- and filled with explosives- is set on fire!
Abravanel has quoted a source from the end of the 19th century referring to the anti-Semitic character of the said custom:
It remains alive in my memory this custom from home, the burning of the jew.. […] I waited with anxiety this day. […] We thought and felt some kind of delight because we were taking revenge […] Friday night before Easter we would light up the fire and then throw the jew and he would be set ablaze and all the kids would yell like victors after a triumph with something wild together. […] The fire would become enormous, the flames would reach high and light, the beach and the boats in see would see from far away the flames and would know than in Petroumi the christians burn the jew. That day jews would hide in their homes and didn’t dare set foot outside. They kept the children inside and didn’t even go to their shops. The children had such a fury, such hatred that searched a jew to burn him alive».
Centre of Asia Minor studies, Oral Tradition Archive, Karia
Related: 1) Greek state continues to promote “burning of Judas” tradition (Press release from the Greek Helsinki Monitor, 7/4/2007), 2) Κάψιμο του Ιούδα σε όλη την Ελλάδα, σα να μη συμβαίνει τίποτα (Against Antisemitism, 7/4/2015), 3) Το Πάσχα του μίσους (Ο Ιός, 11/04/2015)