Corfu and Me


In early 2015, MyHeritage accepted a challenge by Yvette Manessis Corporon, an Emmy Award winning producer and author, to help her research the Secret of Ereikoussa, a tiny island in Greece north of Corfu. Our quest was successful. But when we concluded it in a tearful reunion on the Greek island, we realized that this was only a small part of a story that was never told, the story of the Jewish community of Corfu. We decided to continue this journey, and try to map out the family history of this ancient community, that was nearly wiped out in WW2. We realized that if we won’t do it, probably no one would, and a significant piece of history would be forever forgotten.

On our genealogical journey, we encountered many emotional side stories and the family tree of the community that we were building, that began with a handful of people known only by their first name, grew into the thousands.

At one point, our research revealed an unexpected connection between the Jewish family that was saved on Ereikoussa thanks to the courage of the Greek islanders, and the Corfiot grandparents of Israeli journalist Amir Ziv. Over the years, Amir, although cognizant of his Greek past, had made little effort to look further into his Mediterranean background.

In truth, I never imagined that I would ever revisit these memories…

It was only earlier this year, when MyHeritage researchers approached Amir, that he became aware of the complex storyline linking his family history with that of the orphaned girl Rosa, who had been hidden and saved on Ereikoussa over 70 years ago.

The wedding of "orphan" Rosa Belleli, who was saved on Ereikoussa. Sitting next to her (in a black dress) is Nina, who raised her. Standing above the bride (also in black) is Amir's grandmother, who was also named Rosa Belleli

We shared with Amir a photo of his grandparents, David and Rosa Belleli, with three of their children: Sarah, Tikvah, and Chaim. The photo shook him to the core — he had never seen a photograph of his grandparents at such a young age. It was a significant photo because it was taken when the family was getting ready to return from Israel to Corfu just a few years before WW2 erupted, a move that eventually did not take place, saving their lives.

David and Rosa Belleli, with three of their children: Sarah, Tikvah, and Chaim. c1937

This inspired Amir to write an eloquent article about his Greek roots and childhood memories, which we warmly recommend reading, named “Corfu and Me,” published on Ynetnews. Don’t miss it!

MyHeritage was also recently featured on TV news, highlighting the extensive research we conducted on Corfu.

For many years, Avraham and Peretz Hassid couldn’t put names to many faces in their mother’s old photos. One day, they received a mysterious phone call that revealed details of her mysterious past and changed their lives forever. Watch the recent coverage in this video:

More stories we’ve discovered along this incredible genealogical journey are being revealed for the first time, and will be described here as they unfold.

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  • Pete

    August 4, 2016


  • Maria Fellus

    August 5, 2016

    Thank you Esther for posting this poignant article. It’s important that we never forget the Greek Jewish communities and everyone else that perished during WW2.

  • Photios Anastasiou.

    August 8, 2016

    Thank you for sharing this sad but also uplifting story.It shows how low humanity can get when you have fanatical people trying to impose their beliefs on others.It also shows that some people never stop to be humans no matter what the consequences are for them personally. I should know as i am a refugee from Cyprus.I personally say sorry to the Jewish community for what happened in WW2 to them.

  • Timmy Eickhorst

    August 31, 2016

    Tiny road in the middle of a small town in Corfu, saw lots of nonni our car somehow remained unscathed. The next day, we hopped in the car to head a little further south towards Agios Nikolaos, Lefkimi , stopping quite often to check out the view, which naturally being an island in Greece, is pretty