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40 years of active presence

Sunday, December 10, 2023

    INTELLECTUAL LIFE – Publishing

    The Jews of Corfu made an important contribution to intellectual life. A characteristic expression of their progressive thought and contribution to the letters is the fact that the first known and complete text in demotic (modern) Greek language and literature is a translation into the vernacular of the Book of Jonah for use in the synagogue of Corfu.

    In the 1860s, Iosif Nachamoulis founded a publishing house and set up the Korais printing press, where he started printing the Cronaca Israelitica between 1861 and 1863 in Greek and Italian. Its many interesting texts demonstrated an intellectual and political maturity. From 1864 to 1879 he published the Famiglia Israelitica and from 1878 to 1885 the monthly Mosè: Antologia Israelitica, in Italian only. Through these publications, the Jews of Corfu could keep themselves informed about Jewish life on the island and in overseas communities.

    In 1877 Nachamoulis brought Hebrew movable type from Livorno and started printing prayer books for Pessach, the Haggadah, one siddur (daily prayer book) and many other books. Nachamoulis’ printing press, which produced a considerable number of books in Greek and Italian, was awarded the first prize and a silver medal at a national exhibition in Athens. He died in 1866, but the press continued operating, primarily serving the needs of the island’s Jews.

    In 1940 a Haggadah for Pessach with a Greek translation by Avraam Moshe Nikokiris was published, containing an introduction by Rabbi Yaacov Nechama and some drawings. As the Hebrew movable type no longer existed, the Hebrew text was handwritten and then lithographed. This was the last book printed by the Jewish community of Corfu before its destruction during the German occupation.

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