This week marks 76 years since the destruction of the Jewish community of Rhodes, Greece (then Italy). In July 1944, more than 1,600 Jews living on the Mediterranean island were rounded up and deported to Auschwitz-Birkenau. Only 151 of them survived. Sami Modiano is one of those survivors. Born and raised on the island of Rhodes, Sami was just 14 years old when he was forced on a long and treacherous journey to the gates of hell, the place where both his father and sister were murdered. Sami cheated death multiple times. On one occasion, he was in line about to enter the gas chamber when an SS officer needed someone to unload a transport of potatoes. After the war, Sami emigrated to the Belgian Congo where he married his wife Selma. Today, the couple lives in Rome and travels back to Rhodes every summer where they spend their time at the Kahal Shalom Synagogue, constructed in 1577. Visitors who walk through the shul’s big doors are greeted by Sami, the survivor who returns every year to share his story and the stories of those who perished.
Source: American Society for Yad Vashem