Greece's first Jewish city mayor dies at 68
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Moses Elisaf, considered the first Jewish mayor of a city in Greece, passed away on Friday at the age of 68 after a brief battle with cancer.
Elisaf, mayor of Ioannina since 2019, was hospitalized during a working trip to Athens in December, according to the Kathimerini newspaper.
Only a few dozen Jews remain in Ioannina, where one of the largest populations of Romaniote Jews in Greece once lived. This ethnic community, indigenous to the region, is distinct from the Sephardic Jews who were originally associated with the Iberian Peninsula.
Elisaf, a former pathologist, served as head of the city's Jewish community for two decades and served on the board of directors of the Central Jewish Council of Greece.
Most of the pre-war Jewish population of Ioannina was killed during the Holocaust. Elisaf was born in 1954 to a family that fled during the war to Tel Aviv and then returned to Greece. He graduated from the University of Athens in 1979 and worked from 1993 to 1994 at a medical school named after Sackler at Tel Aviv University.
In 2019, Elisaf told Haaretz that he regularly visits relatives in Israel.
He became a professor at the Janina Medical School, and his ballot as mayor in 2019 was his first foray into the political arena. During his campaign as an independent centrist, rivals tried to claim he was “connected to the Mossad or the Israeli embassy.” Elisaf defeated the city's incumbent mayor in the second round with 50.3% votes.
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