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Q and A with Harry Sideropoulos




What was the personal message you wanted to give young adults?
My message was one of bravery. Stand true to your convictions. Stand in the light of your truth and to always remember that they have every right not be who they are not. But most importantly that if they want something, they’re going to have to work hard and I mean HARD. And in-between life, to learn to laugh. 

What is it that concerns you about the youth today?
I get a sense that they feel lost, living a filtered life through a social media landscape, while showcasing their glamorous fictitious world. They don’t talk, they text. The word patience doesn’t exist – they want instant gratification.

I truly feel that quite a few “millennials” are over-indulged by their parents, honing this sense of entitlement. They want and they get it. So, their coping mechanisms when challenged in the real world, haven’t truly been activated, hence the sense of being lost.  

What did you enjoy most about your experience at Sydenham Shul?
It was spiritual. The choir was/is sensational. Rabbi (Yehuda) Stern and Rabbi (Yossy) Goldman are both extraordinary human beings who resonate enlightenment, yet are very grounded and human. We hucked and laughed together all night long. I was also moved by the community’s generosity and kindness towards me. It felt like I had checked into a sanctuary for a couple of hours. 

What drew you to writing a “The Whole Megillah”?
My love for my friend, Adrienne Bayhack. We studied at varsity together and she introduced me to your community some 23 years ago. I hold her very dear to my heart. Plus, let’s get serious, what happens at a Shabbat table is an actor’s dream. Of course, I was going to write about my Jewish experience through the eyes of a Greek and put it on a stage. 

How did you manage to write about Jewish people without upsetting anyone?
I have my very own Jewish Advisory Board. 

What are your favourite quirks about Jewish people?
Vassing. As a Greek I got it first time round. You vas and then you keep shtoem until you climb into the challah. By the way, MMMMMM-ING to each other after you have vassed is still considered talking!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! And, of course, shortening everyone’s name to one syllable; from Harry to Ha. You are a nation that came out of your mother’s womb relentlessly hucking, so why are the last two syllables of everyone’s name such a linguistic challenge for you? “Howzit my Ha.” 

What are the similarities between Jews and Greeks?
A sense of family and a sense of community. The Jewish community holds a beacon and shines the light on nurturing and creating incubators for YOUR COMMUNITY and those around you. Irrespective of colour and religious beliefs. Then, our mothers. Don’t ever get in the way of one. And food, which becomes the backdrop to our lives. We happy, WE EAT. We sad, WE EAT. We gather around a table, we break bread, we talk, we share and sometimes we cry and most times, we shout a lot, but that’s I guess who we are. But we need to seriously talk about gefilte fish. 

Tell us about going to Greece to explore your “Jewish roots”.
As of 2015, I now live in Athens for five months of the year. I knew that I wanted to write a piece about my Greco-Jewish experiences. Athens always inspires me and some of my best work has been created while sitting on my quaint little balcony writing. Greece played a very important role in sheltering members of the Jewish community from Nazi Germany. So, I decided to go do research and I came across Chabad of Athens. 

I hooked up with the rabbi and we had a glorious, hilarious afternoon chatting. What was so astoundingly funny was seeing all these Jewish folks entering Chabad, speaking to me fluently in Greek. And of course everyone wanted to feed me! KOSHER GREEK CUISINE. 

Sideropoulos’s newly adapted show, “The Whole Megillah” will be back at the end of May before embarking on a tour of Australia and Canada. He will be performing at his Pop-Up Theatre in the hall of the Greek Church on Glenhove Avenue, Johannesburg.



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1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. yitzchak

    Mar 30, 2017 at 1:15 pm

    ‘The Baclava is best from the Carmel market in Tel Aviv,and MUCH better than Athens/Piraeus!!!’

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