Italian Word of the Week ITALKIM

italicsBy Daniela Gross

Italkìm is the plural of Italki, wich means Italian, and it is among the Hebrew words more used in the Italian Jewry because currently indicates the Italian Jewish community in Israel.

The bond between the Italian Jews and the Italkìm is close and full of affection. Only three hours of flight separates the two countries and almost every family has a relative, good friends or a son living there. So, the travels to Israel are frequent as the cultural exchanges and projects.

The origins of the Italian Jewish presence in the Land of Israel dates back to the expulsion from the Spanish Empire, in 1492. But Italians in Israel mostly grew during the last century, when their aliyah registered two significant waves after the 1938, when the fascist regime approved the racist laws, and after the 1967 Six Day War.

There were about 15,000 Italians citizens in Israel two years ago for an enlarged total (including non citizens and members of the respective families) of 25-30,000 people and the immigration from Italy is still increasing.
Most part of the Italkìm resides in Tel Aviv metropolitan area, but the major representative center of the community is in Jerusalem. Here, in Rehov Hillel, there is the Italian synagogue, a real jewel, with a magnificent decorated Ark, that originally was the synagogue of Conegliano Veneto, a village located between Padua and Venice.

After the Second War steps were taken by Italian Jews in Israel to transfer to Jerusalem the Conegliano synagogue, where the last service was held in 1918 by the soldiers of the Austro-Hungarian army. In 1951 the synagogue interior was reconstructed, opened its doors to serve the Italian Community and became later an integral part of the Museum Umberto Nahon, which permanent collection displays a selection of precious and historical ritual objects made in Italy.