NEWS Italy Honors Italian-Israeli Citizens

italkimBy Rossella Tercatin

The President of Italy Giorgio Napolitano has honored three Italian-Israeli citizens for their role as a bridge between the two countries.

The Ordine della Stella d’Italia (Order of the Star of Italy) was bestowed on Elena Maria Rossi Artom, Cecilia Nizza and Alessandro Viterbo. The ceremony took place on Wednesday, October 15th at the Italian Synagogue in Jerusalem; attending it on the behalf of Napolitano was the Italian Ambassador to Israel Francesco Maria Talò.

“Elena Rossi Artom is one of the most prominent scholars of Italian-Jewish genealogy,” reads the statement of reasons for the award released by the Embassy. Rossi Artom was born in Ancona in 1920, she was forced to leave Italy at age 19 because anti-Jewish legislation prevented her from attending university. In 1942, Rossi Artom married Rabbi Emanuele Artom and thereafter has spent her life between Israel and Italy, researching on Italian Jewish culture, writing books, and fostering the bond between her two homelands.

Alessandro Viterbo, a biologist, is the leading force of Tsad Kadima (i.e. “A Step
Forward”), an Association for Conductive Education in Israel, devoted to the rehabilitation and education of children, adolescents, and young adults with cerebral palsy and motor dysfunctions.

Cecilia Nizza, a former teacher at a Milan Jewish school and the current vice-President of the Hevrat Yehude Italia, the organization of the Italian community in Israel, has been described as “a model of dual citizenship”, especially “in her passionate sharing of democratic and cultural values common to both countries and peoples.”

Over a hundred people attended the ceremony. “Viva l’Italia, viva Israele” (“Long live Italy, long live Israel”) cried out 94-year-old Elena Rossi Artom at the conclusion of her acceptance speech.