KINGSTON, R.I. -- February 14, 2001 -- The Greek-Jewish architect and preservationist Dr. Elias V. Messinas will speak on "Saving the Jewish Heritage of Greece" at the University of Rhode Island on Thursday, February 22 at 7 p.m. The presentation will take place in the Cherry Auditorium of the Kirk Center for Advanced Technology, located on Upper College Road. It is free and open to the public.
The lecture, accompanied by slides, will briefly give an overview of Messinas efforts to preserve, document and study the ancient Jewish heritage of Greece. A reception will be held at the University Club on Upper College Road preceding the lecture from 6 to 7 p.m.
The event is sponsored by the Hellenic Society PAIDEIA, the Department of Modern and Classical Languages and Literatures of the University of Rhode Island, the Center for the Humanities, and the Hillel Foundation.
Greece has a very long history of Jewish presence, dating back to antiquity. The Romaniots, the Greek-speaking Jews of the Byzantine Empire, still survive in the cities of Ioannina and Halkis. The Sephardim, who arrived at the Greek territories of the Ottoman Empire, created one of the most important Jewish centers in Salonika. During the World War II German occupation, Greece lost over 86 percent of its Jewish population and most of its Jewish heritage.
Messinas, a Greek-born architect who lived for many years in Israel and the United States, returned to Greece in 1993 to document and study the remaining synagogues in Greece. His team of experts and conservators prepared for the first time a complete study of the 19th century synagogue of Veroia, funded by the Getty Grant Program. Messinas published his study on the synagogues of Greece in 1997 and curated exhibitions on the subject in Thessaloniki (Salonika), Washington D.C., and Jerusalem.
Born in Athens, Dr. Messinas is a world expert on the architecture of the synagogues of Greece. He is the principal in the firm of AMA Messinas Architects in Jerusalem, Israel. He studied architecture at Yale University and Bezalel Academy, Jerusalem and completed his doctoral thesis at the National Technical University of Athens on the "The history and architecture of Greek synagogues and their location in their urban context."
He has exhibited his work and has lectured in Greece, Israel and the United States.
He has written numerous articles on the synagogues of Greece and is the author of the book "The Synagogues of Salonika and Veroia" (Athens, 1997), the founder and editor of Kol haKEHILA, the newsletter of the Jewish monuments of Greece, and users.skynet.be/sky40880/english/KhK/, the website for the study and preservation of the Jewish monuments of Greece. Dr. Messinas lives and practices in Jerusalem, Israel. He is an adjunct lecturer at the Technion School of Architecture.