CANCELLATION OF 55TH REUNION
We regret to inform you that our 55th reunion scheduled for May 22, 2016, has been canceled. If airline and hotel accommodations have been reserved in anticipation of the event, cancellation is advised.
No further information is available.
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BIOGRAPHY - THE MATATHIAS FAMILY
PROF. ASHER J. MATATHIAS
Jacob “Jack” Matathias was born in 1919, in Trikkala, Greece, and died in Queens, NY, in 1997. His father moved the family to Volos, a larger city, to pursue better business prospects. Jack was the oldest of five siblings. One brother, Moshe, arrived illegally in Mandate Palestine, married, settled in Holon, and died naturally decades later. Another brother, Asher, was the victim of an Italian air raid on Larissa in 1940 (Jacob’s first-born would be named in memory and honor of his brother, instead of naming him Samuel, after the paternal grandfather). A sister, Sara, suffering from epilepsy, was unable to heed a German’s order to cease her seizure, and was shot by a German soldier; she was also a prisoner, held hostage, and was executed in reprisal for anti-German acts by the resistance. Another sister, Anna, married, moved to Athens after the war, raised many children (located in Rhodes and Israel), and also had a natural death. Jack worked with his father making cotton cord, manufactured by hand at home; in later years, the son opened a store on Ermou Street in Volos, while servicing the commercial needs of farmers living in the nearby villages as a peddler. In the early 1940’s, Jacob developed an affection for a young maiden, Sara “Nina” Atoun, a cousin he met in Trikala while she visited mutual uncles; at other times, Jacob traveled to see her in her hometown of Thessaloniki, also called Salonika, where the young woman’s parents, Daniel and Rachel Atoun resided, with another daughter, Medi, and two younger sons, Jake and Shabetai.
Nina Atoun-Matathias was born in Salonika, Greece, in 1920, the oldest in a family of four children, and often called upon to assist in supporting a unit that was experiencing hard times --- the world-wide depression, and her father’s severe rheumatism made him withdraw from the once prosperous upscale restaurant with music he was operating. Both families were traditionally observant of Shabbat, and the Jewish holidays; the Matathiases, coming from Romaniote stock spoke fluent Greek; the Atoun family, however, were Sephardic Jews, their background stemming from the 1492 expulsion of Jews in the Iberian Peninsula, and their subsequent welcome into the warm embrace of the Ottoman sultan whose sovereign possessions included Greece, as part of the Balkans. In today’s common parlance, the families were of the lower middle class, proud to toil in a generally unfriendly environment that obtained in Greece as Macedonia (which included Madre de Jerusalem, a characterization Jewish majority Jewish population in Salonika, but having reverted to Greek control following the Turko-Greek conflict of 1912). Nina’s motto was to“have pride, endure suffering, and ask for nothing.”
Asher Matathias was born on December 3, 1943, while his parents were in hiding in Ios Lavrendios, near Volos, Greece.
Visit us next week for Chapter II.
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