In a joint event held by the American Sephardi Federation and the American Friends of the Jewish Museum of Greece, Archbishop Demetrios of America was awarded the inaugural “Damaskinos Award” for “his important work in constructive interfaith endeavors.”
The “Damaskinos Award” was named after the Archbishop Damaskinos of Athens (1891 – 1949), who risked life and freedom to rescue Greek Jews from certain death at the hands of the Nazis. The award carries the image of Archbishop Damaskinos, as it was recorded on the cover of the October 1, 1945 Time Magazine, with the subtitle “His country is a battleground of titanic forces.”
The Archbishop stated that the award has an emotional effect on him, noting that when he was a Theology freshman at the University of Athens, Archbishop Damaskinos was the head of the Church of Greece. He also referred to his personal experience in Thessaloniki during WWII, and to his Jewish fellow students who were disappearing without warning. The Archbishop also emphasized the important work of the Jewish Museum of Greece which keeps alive the memory of those who were so unjustly lost.
Among the honorees was Consul General of Greece in New York Catherine Boura “for her extraordinary work in promoting Greek Jewish history in the United States.” Throughout the evening, hosted by Alexis Christoforou of CBS News, the enthusiasm of the Greek-Jewish community was evident, particularly when the national anthems of Greece and the United States were sung by everyone in attendance. The evening concluded with a concert by Nadia Weinberg who sang in Greek, Ladino and Hebrew.
A congratulatory message sent by the Holy Eparchial Synod read: “We are proud that Your Eminence is the recipient of the Damaskinos Award presented by the American Friends of the Jewish Museum of Greece and the American Sephardi Federation, and we offer our warmest congratulations. The award recognizes your lifelong dedication to fostering good relations between our Greek Orthodox community and the Jewish community throughout the world, especially in Greece and the United States.”