The first Jewish mayor of a municipality in Greece in the post-war period was elected on Sunday, as medical professor Moses Elisaf won a hotly contested race by a razor-thin margin in the northwest lake-side city of Ioannina.
With 160 out of 161 election precincts counted just before midnight, Prof. Elisaf garnered 50.28 percent of the vote to 49.72 for incumbent Thomas Begas.
“Ioannina saw a big upset today; a major step forward. I feel deeply moved and feel the great weight of responsibility towards my fellow citizens,” he said afterwards.
Dr. Elisaf is a professor of pathology at the University of Ioannina’s medical school, as well as the head of the 2nd pathology clinic at the university’s medical hospital.
He has also served as the president of the picturesque city’s Jewish community for 17 years and as a board member of the Central Board of Jewish Communities in Greece (KIS).
Ioannina, the unofficial capital of the mountainous Epirus province, hosted a noteworthy Jewish community, including an ancient Romaniote presence, up until WWII. Most of the 2,000 Jews that had remained in the city during the occupation were rounded up by Nazi forces in March 1944 sent to death camps, with less than 10 percent surviving the Holocaust.