Italian Word of the Week MEMORIA

italicsBy Daniela Gross

“Memoria”, the word of this week, is so similar to the English “memory” that a translation may even sound useless. To have memory is, in the short term, to recall who we are, what are we doing, where and when. In the long term, it means being able to store data, things and events of the past and to remember them. In Italian “memoria” is a recurrent expression in the everyday language as in English: we have a bad or good memoria; we imprint some faces or some situations in our memoria; we can lose one’s memoria etc.

But when that word is written with the capital letter, its meaning dramatically changes and not only for the Italian Jewish world. The Memoria is the memory of the Shoah and, according to a law established in July 2000, the victims of the Holocaust are commemorated every year, on January 27th, during the “Giorno della Memoria”. (Italy approved that Memorial Day some years before the United Nations General Assembly Resolution, that in 2005 set up the International Holocaust Remembrance Day).

In the last decade the “Giorno della Memoria” has involved hundreds of thousands of citizens, especially students and teachers, through exhibits, meetings, artistic events. But even in Italy, where the terrible wounds of the racist laws and the persecutions are still open, the Memoria is every day under attack. Therefore, to protect and to cultivate it is a fundamental part of the daily work of Italian Jewry in order to prepare the future.