Δευτέρα, 4 Μαΐου 2015

PONTIAN HUMANISM AND JEWS


PONTIAN HUMANISM AND JEWS

 

A female Jewish hidden in the Lap of a Pontian Family during the German Occupation.



Sterina's Taboh talk in the event with subject:
«Pontian Humanism and Jews».
Cultural Event Center of the Sourmena Pontian Union.

I am Sterina Taboh or Marika Grigoriadou. It has been 60 years and still some people call me Marika. I have 2 names. A Jewish a Pontian. I was born in Thessaloniki from Strea and Zacharias Pinto, both of Jewish descent.
By a stroke of luck I ended up in Veroia and escaped from the Germans, the concentration camps and survived the Second World War. I went to the family of Sophia and Yannis Grigoriades, just a little girl, about 10 years old.
I hid in their lap, they affiliated and took after me, they issued even a Christian identity for me so as to be able to move without fear. They gave me love and became my parents in the difficult years of the German occupation.
And when the war ended they wanted to find my real parents but unfortunately no one returned from the camps. Once again they opened their hug for me, a 14 years old young girl now. They did not leave me alone and orphaned. For all years next to them not only did they love me, but also respected my Jewish identity. But I learned to be a Pontian, to speak the Pontian language, to cook pontian food, and I'm proud of my Pontian family.


My father, Yannis Gregoriades, was reeve in 3 or 4 villages. In every event my father was going, he was taking me with him as his daughter. Everybody knew and loved me because my father was very proud of me. I got so much tied to my Pontian family that I did not stand out as a foreigner.

Mom's Grandchildren Sophia, Helen and Roula, were about the same age as me and until now I remember the games we played. I went to school up to the third class in Thessaloniki. Afterwards in Veroia I did not go because of the German occupation. Yet, I learned with George Sidiropoulos, nephew of Mom's Sophia.

He used to Live with us while going to secondary school. Along with George, I was attending the secondary school but from home.  We were doing together all the classes of the school. In the school certificate it should actually have both names. Mine and George's. We grew up together, the love we had for each other tied us so much. He was my big brother.

There were very difficult times and I was suffering a lot when I recalled my real parents. Next to me was crying and bewailing mom Sophia, she was sharing my pain and her soul was crying for me. She was solacing so nice. Her words were a real balsam for my child soul. "Don't cry, I love you, I will always be near you; don't cry. "

The war ended. The day came that dad Yannis got me to Thessaloniki, at the Jewish Community to declare that I am well and alive. In case anyone from my family would come back to search for me. How many hopes I had to regain my real family. Unfortunately no one ever returned.

We gave my information to the community and we returned back to Veroia. In the following years the Jewish Community often suggested me to go to Israel or U.S. I did not want to. I did not want to leave and let my family back. I knew they would be sad and I did not like it. So I stayed with them.

The years passed and it was time to have my own family. Multiple expressions of interest were communicated to my father. He was asked why hadn't he baptized me to Christian and get married with one of their own children. He did not want. I believe that somewhere inside him, having the Pontian genocide in his origin roots, he did not want to make me renounce my own Jewish roots. It would be as if Germans had won.

Something inside of me would not let me even. After years I realized. It was because of my parents who did not manage to raised me and did not manage to lap me, my siblings that I did not manage to play with. My uncles, my cousins and all the Jews who perished so unjustly. And the matchmaking I was expecting came. Isaac Taboh, from Veroia, Jew and widower with two babies.

Fate plays a lot of games. Who knew better than me the orphanage? My parents, Sophia and Yannis agreed and also endowed. My dream came true. Very soon I obtained a family. An amazing husband and life partner. His two daughters became my own ones and together we gave birth to our son Samuel. Until I got married, Mom Sophia was going to the market, always returning with packages and when I asked what is it the answer was for my dowry.

My adoptive parents always made sure I had my own pocket money. I remember when our pig was giving birth, one of the piggies was mine and when sold, the money earned were mine so as to get whatever I wished. So I'd take things for my wardrobe.

In the late summer of 1954 began the preparations for my wedding that was on September 19th. When it was known that dad Yannis betrothed his daughter, that's me, then he organized a big dinner for all the friends and acquaintances.

The religious ceremony of my marriage, in accordance with the Jewish traditions, was held in Thessaloniki at the home of the Rabbi. Then marriages were held in homes. The day before the wedding again my parents did a great feast in Veroia this time. I dressed as a Bride in Rabbi's house where the ceremony took place. Dad Yannis gave me to Isaac Taboh. All my Pontian family was there.

I explained to my husband, Isaac, that my adoptive parents grew not by obligation but out of love and that I was for them the child of their heart and their last little kid. Isaac had great respect for Sophia and Yannis and have always treated them with respect.
For sure, mom Sophia was very proud of her Jewish groom. I continued to have my parents in my life, Yannis and Sophia. Every Sunday, me, Isaac and our girls, were going to see my parents. Sophia and Yannis loved too much Isaac's daughters and became their granddaughters.

When I got pregnant on my son, I had many ailments and I was living at my mom's so as to look after me. When I gave birth and then, she was coming at home to assist me with the baby. She was the only one to allow bathing my son. In 1958 we moved to Thessaloniki so as to be closer to my husband's brother  with whom they started working together. My parents felt sad that we would be away. We used to go very often in Veroia to see them. Now mom Sophia became the grandmother Sophia for my son. In Thessaloniki were living my brother Kostas with his wife Anna and mom's Sophia nephew George with his wife Katie.
We were hanging out very often. My sister Euthymia with her husband Angelos were residing an in Veroia and their girls, Helen and Roula, emigrated to Canada. Every time they were coming back to Greece we would always meet and entertain with the whole family. Most have passed away.

We are alive, me Marika/Sterina, Katie wife of George and the girls in Canada. My family ties created during the difficult years of the war continues until today. I thank God that while he got my real parents, he gave me mom Sophia and dad Yannis. A Pontian family that knew what the genocide of the peoples is, the family of Marika's Grigoriadou.