January 28, 2019, Washington, DC — Yesterday, The Washington Oxi Day Foundation observed International Holocaust Remembrance Day alongside millions around the world.
Each year, the Foundation recognizes with its Metropolitan Chrysostomos Award an individual for his or her lifelong commitment to combating anti-Semitism, discrimination and intolerance while forging strong bonds between the Jewish and Greek peoples.
In 1943, the German military commander ordered Metropolitan Chrysostomos and the mayor of Zakinthos to prepare a list of the Jewish community on the island. His goal was to deport them to concentration camps in Poland. The Metropolitan and the mayor went to the Jewish community on the island and sent them into hiding and presented the commander with a list with two names – their own. When the commander threatened their lives, Metropolitan Chrysostomos courageously told the Nazis:
“I am at your mercy. You can arrest me, not them. If this does satisfy you, then know that I will march together with the Jews straight to the gas chamber.”
The percentage of the Jewish community of Zakinthos who survived the Holocaust is ranked among the highest of any Nazi occupied area. Metropolitan Chrysostomos is a true exemplar of the Oxi Day spirit and his courage a worthy role model for contemporary leaders.
Previous recipients of this prestigious honor include: former President of Israel Shimon Peres; Nobel Laureate Elie Wiesel; the mother of Prince Philip, HRH Duke of Edinburgh, Princess Alice (posthumously); CEO of the American Jewish Committee David Harris; Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Jewish Museum of Greece Makis Matsas; humanitarian and philanthropist Bruce Mosler; humanitarian and philanthropist Howard Lorber; and celebrated historian and author Photini Tomai.