SEPTEMBER 7, 2017 – Several times a day, Kary Andrinopoulos rises from his perch near the cash register at his New Brothers Deli, and greets diners in Yiddish. “Vus machsdu?” he’ll ask when they arrive, often prompting hungry patrons – many of whom were raised in Chelsea, Revere, Malden, and Lynn – to throw their arms around him with a bear hug.
If there is a lay preacher in Danvers Square, it is Kary, who believes it’s important to allocate part of each day to schmooze with diners at his deli. Kary, who was born in Greece, and is an observant member of the Greek Orthodox Church, loves America, and has made it a priority to connect with his Jewish clientele and all things Jewish.
“We have a lot in common,” Kary says, noting that he has been studying the Hebrew Bible and King David’s psalms since he was a child in Greece. He also remembers the German occupation of Greece during World War II, and how Nazis took over his village.
Because of his respect for his new country and democracy, Kary holds a memorial every Sept. 11 outside of his deli, and following the short event, he invites everyone in for breakfast on the house. Each year, the memorial has grown larger, and 500 are expected this Monday at 8:15 a.m.
“It’s my way of giving back, and showing how much I love this country,” says Kary, who fondly remembers Karen Martin coming into his deli. Martin, who grew up in Danvers, was a flight attendant aboard American Airlines Flight 11, which terrorists hijacked and crashed into the North Tower of the World Trade Center.
This year, he’s asked Rabbi Richard Perlman of Peabody’s Temple Ner Tamid to offer a prayer at the memorial service. “I’m so honored to do that,” says Perlman. “It was such a devastating day for all of us. My brother Eli, who is a cantor and a rabbi, was supposed to be at Cantor Fitzgerald [at One World Trade Center] that morning. He had an 8 o’clock business meeting scheduled but his wife’s aunt died and he had to officiate at the funeral. God intervened and so many people have stories like that. Unfortunately, I had congregants impacted. We all did. I will always remember where I was that day like any other person who lived through that.”
As Kary sips a coffee, an elderly Jewish couple approaches and tells him how much they appreciated their corned beef sandwiches. Kary smiles, offers up a hug, and throws around some more Yiddish. “Zei Gezunt,” he says, waving to the couple as they carry their leftovers from the meal in a plastic container out to their car.