The Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Federal Republic of Germany, Dr. Frank Walter Steinmeier, visited Thessaloniki and was proclaimed Honorary Member of the Jewish Community during a highly symbolic ceremony held on Sunday December 4th 2016, at the Monastiriotes Synagogue.
Earlier that morning, the minister had inaugurated the exhibition “Divided Memories 1940-1950 - The distance between history and experience” at the Macedonian Museum of Modern Art, in Thessaloniki. The exhibition, co-organized by the Goethe Institute Thessaloniki, the Jewish Museum of Thessaloniki, the Macedonian Museum of Modern Art and the Deutches Historisches Museum of Berlin, is hosted by the Macedonian Museum of Modern Art and will be held until February 26th 2016. The Jewish Museum of Thessaloniki participates in a separate section, which includes historic evidence (records – photographs), films and projections of documents, divided into three parts.
Following the inauguration of the exhibition, Steinmeier was proclaimed an honorary member of the Jewish Community of Thessaloniki in a ceremony at the Monastiriotes Synagogue. Upon his arrival, Steinmeier visited the exhibit of religious artifacts that is kept in the Synagogue and lit a candle in memory of the 50.000 Jews from Thessaloniki who perished in the Holocaust.
David Saltiel, President of the Central Board of Jewish Communities in Greece and the Jewish Community of Thessaloniki, said while welcoming Minister Steinmeier to the synagogue: “The Jewish Community of Thessaloniki, in acknowledgement of your contribution towards the promotion of the relations between the Jewish Community of Thessaloniki and the Federal Republic of Germany, as well as your commitment towards combating antisemitism and racism, has decided to bestow upon you the title of Honorary Member.”
Steinmeier expressed his gratitude that the Jewish Community not only extended a hand to Germany, “but the German hands are able to contribute to the life of the community”, through various projects, like the restoration of the Monastiriotes Synagogue or the Summer Camp that hosts Jewish youth from Greece, Israel, Germany and other countries.
He characterised his visit an “unforgettable moment”, saying that “there are not many moments like this in the life of a minister of foreign affairs” and for that he thanked the Jewish Community.