More than three decades ago my father told me a story– a story about a brave priest and a brave mayor on a faraway Greek Island who stood up against the Nazis and ultimately saved the entire Jewish community of the island.
My dad was an Orthodox Christian, but grew up in “Ovreaki” or “Hebrewtown”– the Jewish quarter of Hania, on the island of Crete, home to one of the world’s oldest Jewish communities.
To understand what “old” means– Jews were in Crete before Alexander the Great… that is more than 300 years before Christ. When St. Paul came to Crete to spread Christianity for the first time– it was Jews he preached to.
This story was one of his many “war stories” that I grew up hearing. He was a teenager when the Nazis invaded his native island of Crete. One of the most fascinating stories he told me about was when thousands of “umbrellas” fell from the sky.
Of course, he was talking about the epic days of the Battle of Crete, when the might of the German army invaded Crete by air, dropping thousands of paratroopers on the island.
But back to the other story– the one about the priest and the mayor.
As it ends up, as was the case with most of my dad’s stories from elsewhere in Greece, it was something that was passed from others to him– stories of Greek heroism that made their way throughout country in times of crisis to bolster the people and strengthen their determination.
The “priest” he referred to in his own variation of the story that he had heard ended up to be Metropolitan Chrysostomos and the Mayor– Lucas Carrer, both of Zakynthos and their heroism: unique in the entire world.
These two men stared evil in the eyes and defied it, ultimately making history as they protected and saved the entire Jewish population of their island– a unique occurrence in Europe. The ancient Jewish community of this island was the only community of Jews that didn’t lose a single soul during the Holocaust.
Together with my friend Steven Priovolos, whose idea it was was to immortalize this story, we have embarked on a project to make this story into a short film called “No Man is an Island.”
We’ve created an Indiegogo campaign to help bring this important story to the public. Please consider sharing and donating to this film project– in memory or in honor of your father, or grandfather– on this important day.
On Father’s Day today, I dedicate this post to my father, Christ Pappas– gone for more than 15 years but neither he, nor his stories, are forgotten.
Please consider making a donation today to this project– in memory, or in honor of your father.