By Catherine Tsounis
“United we are a winner,” said Kostas Koutsoubis, PT of New York Physical Therapy Sports Rehabilitation, Flushing. The 101st Annual Dinner Dance of Panchiaki “Korais” Society was held Saturday evening, February 22, 2014 at Leonard’s Palazzo, Great Neck, New York. About three hundred persons attended. A unique program was presented. Mr. Constantine Parthenis and Mr. Emmanuel Moraitis were honored for their contribution to Panchiaki “Korais” Society. Entertainment was by Nicos Nicolaides and the Cosmopolitans Orchestra.
Miss Katerina Melekos was crowned Miss Chios 2014. She attends the College of St. Elizabeth in New Jersey. Her majors are Biochemistry and Nutrition. Miss Chios is planning a career as a dietician. Her roots are from Kambos, Chios. The contestants involved in the contest: Paraskevi Georgalos, N.J.; 1st runner-up, Virginia Kambouras, N.Y.; 2nd runner up and Maria Maris, 3rd runner-up, N.Y.
The following program was presented: Master of Ceremonies, Mr. Armodios Papagianakis; National Anthems; Invocation, Protopresbyter Rev. Dennis Strouzas of Archangel Michael Greek Orthodox Church, Port Washington, assisted by Presbyter Rev. Sarantis P. Loulakis of St. Markella Greek Orthodox Church in Wantagh, N.Y.; Welcome, Mr. Peter Orisses, Gala Chairman; Traditional Greek Folk Dances Performed by Panchiaki “Korais” Society Dance Group, Anastasia Nitis, Teacher, aided by Evangelia Klidas, General Secretary; Greetings, Hon. Vasilios Philippou, Consul General of the Republic of Cyprus, New York and Mr. Samouil Zisis, Secretary C’. Trade Office of the General Consulate of Greece; Remarks, Mr. Stanley Neamonitis, President of Panchiaki “Korais” Society; Presentation of Donation to the Greek School of St. Markella of Wantagh; “Miss Chios” 2014 Contest and Raffle Drawing.
“We proudly support Panchiaki “Korais” Society of New York,” said Alma Bank on the back cover of the Dinner Dance program. “Our commitment to the communities we serve in New York and New Jersey means offering financial services to enrich the lives of all our neighbors’ businesses and individual needs. We invest in you.” Their website is www.almabank.com.
“There is a big gap between our forefathers and the new generation coming in,” explained PT. Kostas Koutsoubis. “We must close this gap. Music, dance and tradition are the keys. Our children will be catapulted into the future knowing their roots. This is a major aspect. Korais needs to thank the children and young adults who have dedicated the time to learn dances not just from Chios but all of Greece. My mentors are Alex Koutsoubis and Nick Mihalios.” I wrote about Kambia, a village in his family tree at http://www.qgazette.com/news/2012-07-18/Front_Page/Kambia_Profile_Of_A_Chios_Village_And_Society.html.
A small group of committed people can turn a dream into reality. The community of St. Markella Greek Orthodox Church in Wantagh has a unique Greek School. A vibrant middle class community with a large population of school age children, the community of St. Markella Church is served by the ministry of Rev. Fr. Sarantis Loulakis. Panchiaki “Korais” Society recognized this unique Greek School that evening with a generous donation.
“St. Markella Greek Orthodox Church encourages youth to participate,” said Rev. Fr. Loulakis. “Many of our parishioners are from Chios, ancient Ionia. We keep our ethics alive so our children and grandchildren will carry on. Our aim is to have a school that is one of the best in the Greek language. Everyone is working together to realize this dream.” For more information, call Presbyter Rev. Fr. Sarantis Loulakis at 516-783-5760.
Educators shape students. Their impact lasts a lifetime. Mr. Constantine Parthenis was honored that evening, with Emmanuel Moraitis for exceptional service to Panchiaki Korais Society. . Educator Parthenis is a man of military bearing and discipline who taught youth Modern Greek language, Culture and the Greek Orthodox religion for over fifty years, at St. Demetrios Greek American Parochial School in Astoria, New York. In a former testimonial, Mr. Parthenis was honored by leaders of Astoria, New York, in a similar manner. “We are here to honor a great man, who wanted to be a skillful teacher,” said Rev. John Antonopoulos. ‘He achieved his goals. There are few persons such as Constantine Parthenis. He lives a life close to his faith.” The late International poet, Rev. Anastasios Diakovasilis, composed an elegant Greek poem saying “you stood like a warrior, fighting for education…unique child of Chios. What greater honor exists than to be remembered by our children?” Society President Chrysostomos Bitsakis said, “Persons from Pennsylvania and New Jersey have traveled to Astoria tonight to honor Mr. Parthenis.” Chris Kosovitsas, President of the St. Demetrios of Astoria parish council, added “he made our children proud to be Greek-Americans.” (https://www.greeknewsonline.com/constantine-parthenis-an-educator-who-shaped-generations).
A second legendary educator from Chios was present. Mrs. Athena Tsokou-Kromidas is diligently working in the present to shape a unique Greek-American generation. The Chian Federation honored William Spyropoulos Greek American Day School Principal Athena Tsokou-Kromidas on November 2 with the presentation of the 34th annual Homeric Award. Kromidas was honored for her lifelong dedication to the preservation of the Greek language and customs. Kromidas also has a weekly radio program on Cosmos FM. “I would not be here tonight if it were not for the opportunity I was given to offer my services in educating our Greek community,” Kromidas said upon receiving her award at a ceremony held at the Chian Federation in Astoria. “I owe this award to my family, to my colleagues and to the parents and students of St. Nicholas School and the entire Greek community in Flushing. It is an honor to serve the St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Parish, a community which I love and respect—for more than 29 years,” (http://www.qgazette.com/news/2013-11-27/Features/Kromidas_Honored_With_Annual_Homeric_Award.html).
Honoree Emmanuel Moraitis and his wife, Vasilia, have devoted many years to the success of the society. “Mr., Emanuel Moraitis is one of the oldest members of the Panchiaki Korais
Society,” explained Captain Stelios Tatsis. “He served the organization as secretary, treasurer and
president. In 1974, he found the commercial building at Roosevelt Avenue, Woodside. It was bought by the society. That building was the inspiration to boost the Panchiaki Korais to open new wings to new
horizons. The society recognized his efforts and services and named him honorary president.
Today, he is almost 88 years old. He is still an active member. His love for Korais is unexplained. The name Korais is deep in his soul. For me, he is my best friend among the very few I have.”
That evening many present felt the loss of Mrs. Nina Tatsis, a vibrant, tall elegant person. She was a believer in education and community service. Honorary President Emmanuel Moraitis said “It was a tragic situation my very good friend Stelios Tatsis to lose his devoted and lovely wife Nina. Rena, mother of three loving children and married to Harry Kotsidis, is living with him and their children in a beautiful village of Kozani in Northern Greece. The other child, Michael, is married to a very respected girl and living in Little Neck with their children. Mike is helping his father in shipping business. Stelios was and still is one of the most important persons in PANCHIAKI KORAIS for many years. He is a man of education. He established a regular yearly donation for the Greek schools in the metropolitan area from the proceeds of KORAIS. He is lovable and highly respected from the KORAIS people and in general the omogenia. He is also a journalist of distinction.” Simone Moraitis-Lago explained “Captain Tatsis’ son-in-law, Harry Kotsidis, passed away recently.”
“The United Chian Societies with Panchiaki “Korais” Society are preparing for the 60th National Convention of the Chios Societies of America and Canada from July 3rd to the 6th, 2014 in New York,” explained Amalia Bournias, 2nd Vice President of the Chian Federation. “We are looking forward to welcome all Chiotes. The United Chian Societies is celebrating their 40th Anniversary. We want to plan events that will allow the entire family to participate. The events we are planning are for all ages. The Societies’ youth is planning various events.”
United Chian Societies President Dimitrios Kontolios said he is “very fortunate and honored to have the organization and Panchiaki “Korais” Society-Chapter 1, host the 60th National Convention of the Chios Societies of America and Canada.” I discussed with him my research on the history of Mastiha and its presence in Tseme, opposite Chios. I was astonished to hear President Kontolios say “someday Tseme will be ours.”
One can never get over the tragedy of the Mikrasiatiki Catastrophe in Chios. It is now almost 100 years since the “Megalo Diogmos”, the first expulsion of Greeks in 1914. Tseme is less than ten miles away from Chios. The tragedy is in everyone’s vocabulary. Paradise lost.
Mother Superior Paraskevi, of St. Constantine Church on a cliff in Kambos, mentioned Tseme the moment on a visit to Chios. “Pakoumios, the monk who founded our monastery during the early 1900ʼs, was constantly being interrogated by Turkish authorities over the imposing walls he was building,” she said. “This was pre-1912, before the liberation of Chios. The Turks in control did not trust Pakoumios, who was an austere, religious monk. They believed he was building an edifice to reclaim Tseme for Greece. Through constant mistreatment and harassment by Turkish authorities, the devoted monk developed cancer and died. He was a mentor of St.Nektarios.”
Theo Kalaitzis of Whitestone, said “my father was born in Tseme. We had our home by the cathedral of St. Charalambos Church, Tseme. I was told the captains of Tseme were wealthy. My father lived through the horrors of being a refugee. He would say ‘may you never see wars or expulsion. Our honor and respect come first. We lived by the frouriou (fortress) in Chios City’.”
Tseme (Cesme) is the nostalgic place where more than 50 percent of Chios City’s (Chora) citizens are descended and see from their shores. Modern Cesme is a province that is part of the prefecture of Izmir (Smyrna). Prefecture is similar to the states of New York or New Jersey. A county such as Queens, Nassau, Suffolk are considered provinces.
All evening we were listening to Chiotika like “Sala., Sala.” Sala” and seeing couples dance to Aegean tunes. Chios is a “Guardian of Hellenism”. “We have a slow tsifteteli and syrtos,” said President John Mihalios and his brother Demetrios at an interview of the Kambia Society. “We hold on to the ancient civilization of Smyrna that has vanished. When we have weddings at Panagia Despina Church, everyone in neighboring villages is invited. Our weddings are like those held in Constantinople. Two hours of continuous dancing with everyone having the opportunity to dance with the bride.”
The Erythraia Peninsula opposite Chios was to epitomize the preservation of modular musical tradition…as the four beat ballos, four beat tsifteteli, seven beat kalamatianos and 9 beat zeibekiko,” said the Heraklion Alatsata Association in the CD album “Blow in, breeze from Asia Minor.” These beats are heard in Kambia’s music. Old narrative songs of Greece and Asia Minor are played in Chios. The musical culture of Asia Minor was influential, especially following the destruction of Asia Minor in 1922 and the permanent resettlement of refugees in the town of Chios. The old tunes of syrtos, zeibekiko and tsifteteli are played at gatherings such as the Kambia reunion picnic. (http://www.hellenicnews.com/index.php/omogenia-a-national-issues/item/216-kambia-profile-of-a-chios-village-and-society).
Panchiaki “Korais” Society hosted a historic Symposium with the cooperation of the Chian Federation. An exceptional Centennial was held on the occasion of Chios 100th Anniversary, 1912-2012 of Freedom. The topic was Milestones in History: United States and Greece. The symposium was held on Saturday, October 14th, all day at the Chian Federation, 44-01 Broadway, and Astoria, New York. The scholarship was exceptional and is worthy of calling it on the same level as the events featured by the Alexander S. Onassis Public Benefit Foundation (USA) and the foremost education institutions on Greek Studies. The finest scholars of Greek background made presentations. The final presentation of the Symposium was by the Hon. Christopher Stratakis, Esq. the speaker’s excellence in research was revealed in his topic “Hellenism-The American Experience.” Nicholas Poulis, Chairman of the Chios Relief Fund of the Chian Federation, said that day “We send Five thousand a month to Chios for supplies to the soup kitchen. We are feeding 570 families currently.” Members of the Chios Relief Fund include: Dr. Nicholas Rallis, Co-Chairman; Alex Doulis, President of the Chian Geriatric Foundation; Vagelis Kavvadas, former President of the Chian Federation; Maria Papagiannakis, President of the Woman’s Auxiliary of the Chian Federation. Stavros Haviaras was the 2012 President of the Chian Federation. For more information, visit http://www.chianfed.org/mos/index.php.
On this Centennial Anniversary of the Liberation of Chios, the Chian Federation published the book “Chios 1822 — 1912: From Massacre to Liberation” containing newspaper & magazine articles and book chapters dealing with a period of Chian history which has not been well documented in the historical literature of Chios, especially in the English language. Nick Papagiannakis is the editor. The Chian Federation undertook the effort to publish this volume within the context of the Chios Liberation Centennial celebrations as a way to preserve and make known parts of the islandʼs history which until now have been accessible only to academics. All proceeds from the sale of the book will benefit the Chian Geriatric Foundation and the Chian Federation Scholarship Fund. The literature can be purchased at www.chianfed.org.
Panchiaki “Korais” Society of New York was formed one hundred and one years ago, on March 18, 1912, in a coffee shop. Their purpose was to unite bonds among Chians, aid the island, and promote Hellenism and the Greek Orthodox faith in America. “You don’t develop courage by being happy in your relationships every day. You develop it by surviving difficult times and challenging adversity,” Epicurus (341-270 BC). This is the Chios character.
Persons involved in the event included: Organizing Committee, Peter Orisses, Kostas Koutsoubis, Evangelia Klidas, Simone Lago-Moraitis; “Miss Chios” 2014 Committee, Mary Kojes, Dimitrios Kontolios; Raffle Committee, Costas Kojes, Mary Kojes, Stavros Karatzas, Nick Menis; Executive Board, Stanley Neamonitis, President; Peter Orisses, 1st Vice President, Simone Moraitis-Lago, 2nd Vice President; Evangelia Klidas, General Secretary, Nick Menis, Treasurer, Peter Papagianakis, Legal Advisor; Board of Trustees, Antonios Fegoudakis, Stelios Gerazounis, Vasilios Gerazounis, Stavros Karatzas, John Klidas, Costas Kojes, Mary Kojes, Dimitrios Kontolios, Stelios Makarigakis, Armodios Papagianakis, Costas Parthenis, Peter Parthenis, James Psaltakis, Capt. Stelios Tatsis, Capt. Peter (Takis) Tsevdos; Honorary Presidents, Dr. Theodore Kalamotousakis,. Emmanuel Moraitis and Legal Counsel Emeritus, Chris Stratakis, Esq. These names were taken from the 101st Dinner Dance Program. For a more accurate list, contact Elisavet Tzoumaka, Administrative Assistant, Panchiaki “Korais” Society, 43-15 202nd Street, Bayside, NY 11361, 718.224.4846, firstname.lastname@example.org.