ITALICS A Jew in Milan

italicsBy Daniela Gross

Some days ago, an Italian journalist tried to understand how it feels to be Jewish in an Italian Muslim neighborhood. To do it, he wore a kippah, and walked around for a couple of hours. Meanwhile, a hidden cameraman filmed his walk. The idea was not very original, since it was already enacted in other parts of Europe (mainly in Paris, after the terror attacks). However, the reportage by Nino Materi on “Il Giornale” conveys a surprisingly discomforting sensation. “To wear a kippah is enough to turn this ethnic neighborhood into a hostile territory. There are scowls, some dirty words, a veiled woman moved her daughter away from me”, it reads.

“In Italy the situation is better than elsewhere, but the atmosphere is really tense”, said Walker Meghnagi, president of the Milan Jewish Community “In our cities we are absolutely not at risk. We feel good, in Italy, we feel protected”, retorted Riccardo Pacifici, president of the Rome Jewish Community ”. However, that report leaves you with a feeling of malaise. We know very well, and not only since yesterday, that going around with the kippah can look provocative and might put you in some danger. So, in most Communities, men leaving the Synagogue put away their kippah. It is a kind of natural gesture. One doesn’t even think about it, but it is a somewhat disheartening thing to do.