Greece’s President Prokopios Pavlopoulos pledged support to his nation’s small Jewish community in a meeting with a delegation of the Conference of European Rabbis (CER) on Tuesday. The meeting took place as the Rabbinic organization gathered in Athens for the bi-annual meeting of its standing committee.
Rabbi Pinchas Goldschmidt, the CER’s president, told Hamodia that the president expressed warm support for the community’s security, saying, “When you need help, I am here for you.”
He also remarked that “the development of Greece is dependent on the Jewish community.” The statement is particularly striking, given that the country’s Jewish population is estimated at only 5,000.
The Greek president is officially the head of state; however, his office is largely ceremonial, with most power being held by parliament. Rabbi Goldschmidt said that the CER’s decision to visit Greece was “based on need, not convenience,” citing both the distressed economy as well as rising incidents of anti-Semitism.
A recent ADL study reported that 69 percent of Greeks harbored some sort of anti-Jewish views. Some key members of parliament have recently attracted media attention for anti-Semitic comments and there have been steady reports of desecration of the nation’s historic Jewish cemeteries.
Rabbi Goldschmidt said that the Greek president responded positively to the delegation’s calls to work against anti-Jewish feeling in the country as well as to protect shechitah and milah through the EU.
The committee’s meeting was set to focus on these issues and several other topics, including developing approaches to aiding Europe’s many small, aging communities.