Yad Vashem honored the memory of Gina Silvestri, a partisan who saved Italian Jewish journalist Massimo Della Pergola (1912-2006) and his family during World War II, recognizing her as a Righteous Among the Nations last Thursday.
Della Pergola, one of the most appreciated sport columnists of his time, is also the inventor of Totocalcio: a predictive competition about twelve matches played every weekend which immediately became an extraordinary success among soccer fans and helped finance the national soccer federation.
Gina Silvestri, a Florentine citizen with evangelical beliefs, helped Massimo, his wife Adelina and their little son Sergio (just one year old) to escape from Florence and illegally cross the border to Switzerland. This happened on Christmas Day, 1943.
“Her contribution was decisive for our salvation,” Sergio Della Pergola said during a moving ceremony held inside the synagogue, during which he also embraced for the first time (together with his sister Mara) a nephew of the woman, Federico Sabatini.
Professor Della Pergola, one of the most influent demographers in the world and a regular columnist for Pagine Ebraiche, also expressed his gratitude in memory of Livia Sarcoli, a devout Catholic teacher who hosted the family in her apartment in the earlier weeks.
The ceremony was also attended by the president of the Jewish community Sara Cividalli, the city counselor Sara Funaro and minister counselor at the Israeli Embassy Rafael Erdreich.
“Every award is a unique experience. Every story that is recovered a great gift to humanity,” Cividalli said.