Italian Word of the Week DIASPORA

italicsBy Daniela Gross

This is a word we learn since our childhood. The best pupils know also the etymology – from the Greek verb “diaspeiro”, that means to scatter or to spread – even before to be aware what does it mean to have an etymology. But, to say the truth, nobody needs much explanation: we all are well conscious of the implications of being in “Diaspora”, because this is where and what we are.

That word comes from the Torah or better from its translation to Greek to indicate the exile of the Jewish people and so strictly it’s not an Italian word. In English – reads the Merriam Webster Dictionary – the term, when capitalized and without modifiers (the Diaspora), refers to the Jewish diaspora. Otherwise it can be used to indicate refugee or immigrant populations of other origins or ethnicities living “away from an established or ancestral homeland”.

In the years some scholars tried to reframe the meaning of this word, in order to comprehend in it a wider historical experience – someone goes so far as to talk about a diaspora of the executives or the scientists. However, what matters here is the leitmotiv of the Diaspora (capitalized, so the Jewish diaspora), the connection to the ancestral homeland, that strong relation that shapes the identity and the feelings. These are not easy issues with which to deal and many times in the Diaspora they are studied and debated. But in these days, so dramatic and complicated, the Italian Jews are united by only a sentiment: the bond to Israel.