On the Front Line

italicsBy Daniela Gross

“In Milan, the Jewish commitment is made plain in the ongoing work at the Milan Holocaust Memorial where thousands of migrants and refugees have found a safe, free place to spend the night.” On October 2, the humanitarian effort of Italian Jews came again to the international spotlight thanks to the US edition of the Huffington Post.

A long article by Paul Brandeis, titled “Hearing Echoes of the Past, Jews Are on the Front Line of the European Refugee Crisis,” widely reported the action taken by the Milan Jewish insitutions to give shelter to migrants. Mr. Brandeis highlights the symbolic impact of hosting people seeking refuge from war just where Jews were warehoused, and ultimately sent to concentration camps. “Over 3,500 migrants and refugees have spent the night in the memorial where 40 makeshift beds have been placed and where food is brought over by other Jewish and Christian groups,” he wrote.

The article quoted the vice-president of the Union of Italian Jewish Communities (UCEI) and of the board of the Memorial Roberto Jarach. Paul Brandeis reminded us that in “the wider Italian Jewish community the reaction has been just as strong. Renzo Gattegna, President of the UCEI proposed to dedicate the European Day of Jewish Culture on Sept. 6 to the newly arriving people stating: That part of humanity, innocent and defenseless, who is forced to a desperate escape from their homeland to save the life of their own and of their children. Welcoming and the respecting other faiths and cultures dates back to the very origins of Judaism’. The group is also dedicating the next issue of their magazine Pagine Ebraiche to the crisis and the Jewish value of assistance.”