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40 years of active presence

Sunday, December 10, 2023

    Τhe Levis family

    Matathias David Levis was the head of the Talmudic school of Ioannina in the middle of the 19th century. With his wife, Sarah, they had three sons and two daughters. The eldest son was likely Bohor Samuel, who died in 1868. The other two were Menahem, who married Rachel Kalamaro, and Davidjon, who married Hannoula. The daughters were Hannah (Anneta), who married Samuel (Delos) Levis, Davidjon’s wife’s brother, and Fina, who married Judah ben Gavriel Judah Levis.

    The next Levis generation was even bigger: during the 19th century, Menahem, Hanna and Davidjon had 20 children between then. The third generation, which was born in the late 19th or early 20th century, was almost twice the size. Including all the in-laws, the Levis family was the pole of Ioannina’s Jewish community. At the same time, it held a dominant position in the city’s social and economic life.

    Menahem, apart from being a businessman, must have been a senior civil official, as demonstrated by the decorations on the sleeve of his uniform. The most prominent representatives of the non-Muslim communities participated in public life. The members of the Levis family were commended both by the Ottoman and the Greek states for their social and humanitarian deeds, such as preventing the execution of Greek prisoners.

    The Levis family was not confined to the narrow world of Epirus. Its members often made pleasure trips to Europe. Some even studied, worked or lived permanently in Switzerland, Italy and France, while others continued and expanded their business activities in Epirus.