My Palestinian Story

Exploring the Palestinian side of my family

Tag: Kassotis

The Beginning of the End

It was a dark and stormy night. No, it truly was! “Torrential rain, accompanied by thunder and lightning fell in Jerusalem all Sunday night“, wrote The Palestine Post on 6 Jan 1948 noting that the belfry of the Dormition Abbey had been struck by lightning and windows had been broken. “Throughout the night there was heavy rain and one thunder-clap at 3.50 a.m. awakened many persons in all parts of the city.

Like in most of the neighbourhood, in a corner stone house in upper Katamon, only a few blocks away from the monastery and church of St Simeon, the Kassotis family – my mother (just a week short of her 18th birthday), her parents and two sisters – would have been awoken much earlier, had the storm allowed them to sleep in the first place. To begin with there was the sound of grenade for at 1 am on Monday, 5 January, 1948 – exactly 70 years ago – the Hotel Semiramis, two doors down the street from the Kassotis, came under attack by the Haganah, the Jewish  militia.

Kassotis house in Katamon. Photographed by Jules Parisinos, April 1974

Kassotis house in Katamon.
Photographed by Jules Parisinos, April 1974

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Memory Lanes of Katamon

One of the things I tried and failed to do last year was find the place where Nouna Marika and her family lived. Nouna in Greek means godmother. Marika Schtakleff was my grandmother’s sister and godmother to my mother. We all called her Nouna Marika. She was married to Efthymios Gaitanopoulos, another Jerusalemite, and had two daughters, Feely and Jenny – mum’s first cousins. Feely now lives in Canada, Jenny in Cyprus. (I realise that at some point I’ll have to add a family tree to this blog but I think so far you can follow me.)

Efthymios Gaitanopoulos & Marika Schtakleff, on their wedding day – Jerusalem 1932 (Photo from Maroussia Wentzel’s archive.)

Efthymios Gaitanopoulos & Marika Schtakleff, on their wedding day – Jerusalem 1932
(Photo from Maroussia Wentzel’s archive.)

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