EVENTS Italians in Israel Commemorate the Shoah

yomhashoahBy Michael Sierra

The annual ceremony of Yom HaShoah organized by the youth of the Italian Jewish community of Jerusalem was held on Thursday at the Italian synagogue in Jerusalem. Among the participants were the Italian Ambassador, Francesco Maria Talò, the General Consul David La Cecilia, Consul Elena Clemente, the President of the “Hevrat Yehudei Italia”( Italian community in Israel) Angelo Piattelli and the vice president and head of culture Cecilia Nizza.
The highlight of the ceremony was the reading of testimonials by the families of the Community.

The ceremony began with the reading of a text written by Samuel Di Porto during his school trip to Poland and the death camps. Di Porto was unable to attend in person as he was engaged in military service. Two other soldiers belonging to the third and fourth generation after the Shoah had special permission to be present at the ceremony and read some of the testimonials.

One of these soldiers is part of a special unit in the army called COGAT (Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories). ” The Unit’s mission is to promote and implement the policy of the Israeli Government in civilian matters, to facilitate humanitarian issues and economic and infrastructure projects in Judea and Samaria and in the Gaza Strip. In addition, the unit leads the coordination and liaison with the Palestinian Authority and with the Palestinian population in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. I think this is an important mission and proof of the fact that the Israel defence forces give a lot of importance to humanitarian issues. Issues that as history has shown us, other military forces often do not respect,” he tells Pagine Ebraiche.

Among the various moving texts read there was a letter from Franco Cesana, known as ‘the partisan baby’ which he had written to his mother. Another was sent by Rubino Salmoni to his mother which was read by his nephew, Gavriel. Moreover the story of Vittorio Sacerdoti, born in Padua and who fought with the Allies against the Nazis was read by his nephew who is currently a soldier in the Israel Defense Forces. To conclude the event the General Consul and the Ambassador expressed their condolences and each read a page from the Book of names of victims.

The ceremony was organized by the youth of the community with the help of Cesare Pavoncello, David Pacifici and Cecilia Nizza.

After the ceremony the two soldiers posed together in a photo that is a reproduction of a famous picture taken in 1918 and now shown in the Museum of Italian Jewish Art. The picture shows two Austro-Hungarian Jewish soldiers before the famous battle of the Piave standing in front of the synagogue of Conegliano Veneto, then moved to Jerusalem in 1952 by Shlomo Umberto Nachon.

Among three other soldiers posing was Yael Lazar, whose enlistment for military service was a voluntary choice as she is celiac.
This, among other things, shows the great involvement of women in Israeli society, and is particularly significant in the aftermath of the UN Declaration about an alleged “marginalization of women in Israel”, with no mention of Arab States.

“Listening to and reading from these texts was a very special experience. We can say that our generation is probably the last one to hear testimony directly from the voices of the survivors,” commented one of the young people attending the ceremony. “It is our task, she continues,to pass them on from parent to child, just as we do every year with the narrative of the Jewish people fleeing Egypt at Passover as we just read recently.”