Speaker Profile Haim Ischakis

Haim Ischakis was born in Athens in 1959. His parents, who moved to Athens after WWII, originated from Ioannina and Chalkida, cities that were home to two flourishing Jewish communities, established before common era by Romaniote Greek-speaking Jews.

Haim graduated from the Greek-French High School “Lycée Léonin” in 1976 and began to study Chemistry and Geology at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. In 1981, after receiving his MSc Degree in Geochemistry, he returned to Greece and became the general manager of the family business.

In June 1996, after the death of his father, who was one of the very few Ioanniote survivors from Auschwitz death camp, Haim decided to entrust his brother Solon (Solomon) with the management of the family business, in order to devote himself to the preservation of the Jewish heritage in Greece.

Following the family tradition (Haim’s father was also a cantor) of the old Romaniote nussach (ritual), Haim brought new tunes to the special Romaniote piyyutim (religious poems) of the High Holidays. Today, he is the last remaining cantor of the Romaniote minhag (custom) in the entire world. He also leads services according to the Sephardic ritual.

In 2002 and 2003, the Jewish community of Athens and the Central Board of Jewish Communities in Greece, dispatched Haim to all the small communities of Greece, in an effort to revive Jewish life. Haim opened all the “forgotten” Synagogues in Greece, performed very moving services, gave lectures about the basic principles of Judaism and taught to the children the history of the Jewish presence in Greece which dates back to the 6th BCE, after the destruction of Solomon’s Temple by the Babylonians.

Since 2003, Haim has been organizing Jewish heritage tours to all the Jewish communities, both Sephardic and Romaniote. In April 2005, he lead the memorial service at the crematoria of Birkenau and blew the shofar in memory of his father and all the victims of the Holocaust.

In July 2010, Haim was invited by the Jewish Community of Riga, Latvia to lead the annual memorial service for the Holocaust victims. It took place at the Bikernieki forest, murder site of thousands of Jews from Latvia, Germany, Austria, Bohemia and Moravia, who were killed in cold blood by the Nazis and buried in several mass graves.

In April 2014, he was invited by the IHRA (International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance) to lead the memorial service at the Synagogue of Ioannina, Greece, during the commemoration events marking 70 years since the deportation of the city’s Jewish population to the extermination camps.

He continues to perform religious services throughout Greece and has been invited as a cantor to many European countries and to Israel.

Since 2013, Haim has been working together with his two sons, Daniel and Albert, as, upon completion of their studies, they decided to continue the family tradition of organizing Jewish heritage tours all over Greece.
Haim speaks 5 languages fluently: Hebrew, English, French, Italian and Greek.


Speaker's Resources

Feb 28, 2022
Feb 28, 2022
Feb 28, 2022

Jewish Communities Around the World (Part 3)

Dr. Marc Shapiro, Haim Ischakis
Feb 23, 2022

e-TiM: Jewish Communities Around the World

Dr. Marc Shapiro, Haim Ischakis, Rabbi Boruch Oberlander, Rabbi Daniel Askenazi, Rabbi Riccardo Di Segni, Raphael Elmaleh
Jan 11, 2022