The Kassian Benevolent Society of America commemorated the Kasos Holocaust

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BRONX, NY – On June 12, the Kassian Benevolent Society of America, also known as the Kassian Brotherhood, commemorated the 198th anniversary of the Kasos Holocaust which took place in June 1824 during the Greek War of Independence.

The event took place at the Kassian Club in the Bronx and was coordinated by former longtime president and active member of the organization, Michael (Mike) B. Zoulis, who hosted attendees. This was followed by the national anthems of the United States and Greece and a moment of silence observed for the Holocaust victims of Kasos.

The prayer was performed by Fr. Efthymios Kontargiris, who praised the initiative of the organizers of the event. At the same time, bouquets were presented to teachers Sophia Gergatsoulis, Joanna Kyriakou and Evangelia Arapi-Aspras in recognition of their contributions. Also, Sophia Gergatsoulis and Sophia Kakomanolis recited the lamentations of Karpathos and Kasos.

Teacher Joanna Kyriakou and the younger generation of the Brotherhood of Kassian, children of various ages, dressed in traditional Kasos costumes. Photo: The National Herald/Despina Afentouli

The warmest applause was for the younger generation of the Kassian Brotherhood, the children of various ages, dressed in traditional Kasos costumes. In particular, under the direction of Kyriakou, they presented dances from different parts of Greece, namely the tsirigotiko from Kythira, the pentozali from Crete, the hasapiko from Constantinople and the Ikariotiko from Ikaria. Also, with the accompaniment of Georgios Perselis on the lyra and Chrisovalantis Kasiotakis on the laouto, they sang the words of the traditional song of Kasos “Afousis” then, they presented the Kasian dances zervo and sousta.

During his greetings, the President of the Brotherhood of Kassian, Antonis Perselis, said of the Kasos Holocaust Remembrance Day: “June 7 is a day of mourning. This is the day when our island was completely destroyed by the enemy… This is the day when approximately 2,000 Kassians lost their lives defending their homeland and hundreds of women and children were sold in the markets to slaves… We are obliged to perpetuate the customs and traditions of our place, so that our children know our roots, our traditions and our history, that with so many struggles we have succeeded in gaining our freedom.

The younger generation of the Kassian Brotherhood, children dressed in traditional Kasos costumes, performing traditional Greek dances. Photo: The National Herald/Despina Afentouli

Referring to the day of remembrance, Zoulis said, among other things: “It is important in this big city where we live to preserve our ethnic identity, that is to say religion, language, customs and traditions , our ethnic heritage, and two important factors contribute to this – family and school.

In her greetings at the event, Miss Greek Independence 2022, Anna Aspras, expressed her gratitude for the opportunity to represent Kasos, during the Miss Greek Independence 2022 pageant process, which was recently organized by the cultural committee of the Federation of Hellenic Societies of Greater New York. At the same time, she expressed her love for Kasos.

Pulmonologist Dr. Giannis Arapis gave a presentation titled The Kasos Holocaust and the island’s rebirth from the ashes, along with photographs and archival documents.

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