On June 19, the Italian Jews all over the country will be called to the polls to elect the new Council of the Union of Italian Jewish Communities (UCEI). The last meeting of the current Council was held last Sunday. President Renzo Gattegna, who has held the post for the last 10 years and will not run again, presented the final report of his term. The report was also an opportunity to go over the experience of his ten years in office, and the challenges that lay ahead for the new Council and the whole Italian Jewish world.
“If we were to elude openness and dialogue, two things that are deeply different, if not opposite, to assimilation, it would be an illusion against history, a fatal mistake, it would mean to miss a unique opportunity. Openness and dialogue are proof of the trust in ourselves and they are a stimulus that will strengthen our culture and identity in order to be able to face any challenge or confrontation, and be able to defeat, once and for all, the contempt that has not been completely eradicated,” Gattegna said.
“We believe that it is appropriate and necessary for us to leave our ports, which only look safe, slip moorings and courageously face the open sea, cautiously and wisely guided by our Masters. To sail in the open sea may mean risks and surprises, but there aren’t any alternatives if we want to continue to take part and give our contribution, as protagonists, to the evolution of contemporary society and, at the same time, rediscover our inner strength.”
“And on extremism and demagogy – Gattegna underlines that they derive from fear and feed themselves with plain, arbitrary and cheap simplifications. They alter human relations, favor prejudice and hatred towards those who are different, stimulate the perpetual search for enemies, real or imaginary, bring to mistrust of friends, and give an altered perception of a reality which always seems only black and white, without nuances. The extremism of language, the thoughtless use of verbal provocations are not a matter of pure formality, because they produce traumatic effects and real damage, developing the tendency to demonize not only the opponents but also friends who ask for a place for dialogue or more openness. If this deterioration appeared among us, it would need to be strongly rejected. We must not forget that according to Jewish tradition, nobody can call themselves a supreme authority, the only one entrusted with the truth, and nobody holds the absolute power of accepting or excluding the others.”
During the meeting, the chief rabbi of Rome Riccardo Di Segni presented the state of the project of translating the Talmud in Italian. Among other things, the Council discussed the proposal to amend the section of UCEI statute that disciplines the relations between rabbis and Communities.