By Daniel Reichel
On the occasion of the European Day of the Righteous, established by the European Parliament in Strasbourg and celebrated on March 6 to remember all those who fought and are still fighting against hate and violence – a new project was presented in Milan: the virtual Garden of the Righteous, a virtual place collecting the names of the heroes that sacrificed their lives in the fight against totalitarianisms.
“From Israel to Tunisia more and more cities have gotten involved in the project and we are very proud of that,” explained Gabriele Nissim, the president of the Association Gariwo, which initiated the idea of the European Day of the Righteous.
The event was also attended by the vice-president of the Union of Italian Jewish Communities (UCEI) Giorgio Mortara, deputy mayor of Milan Anna Scavuzzo, president of the City Council of Milan Lamberto Bertolè and Gariwo director, Ulianova Radice.
“Today marks the European Day of the Righteous which was created to celebrate the value of those who opposed totalitarianism, terrorism and crimes against humanity. The memory of these good people is essential and the example of the Righteous make us feel responsible. This year in particular, the Day is dedicated to the men and women who had sought dialogue in defense of plurality and did not succumb to the culture of hate”, said the message of the Italian Prime Minister, Paolo Gentiloni.
“The memory of the Holocaust,” commented UCEI President Noemi Di Segni, “requires a strong and absolute distinction. It requires the absolute understanding that its horrors belong to a temporal space that has no equal. Importantly and perhaps more significantly than any other research is to understand why an individual man or people committed such crimes. As we ask ourselves the reason for the evil, we have to ask ourselves the meaning of good, almost reversing the expectation. It is so rare to do good to others that we remain shocked.”.
“Let’s celebrate the European Day of the Righteous, which reminds us of the lofty value of the memory of Good, to underline the importance of remembering all Righteous people who every time have opposed genocide and all forms of totalitarianism,” was the statement of Italy’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Angelino Alfano. “In particular, said Alfano, this day is dedicated to the Righteous of dialogue against hatred, those who oppose terrorism and fundamentalism: they are the Righteous of our times.”
Also Matteo Renzi, Secretary of the Democratic Party (PD), expressed his adhesion and support to March 6. “The European Day of the Righteous aims at recalling for all of us the duty to express gratitude and solidarity with those people who had struggled and still fight against any form of violence and oppression, to affirm the reasons of civil coexistence, tolerance, and life. In every era there have been women and men who did not bow to fanaticism, and risked their own lives and saved others by defending human dignity. Their deeds shall be honored even more so today in the face of a wave of terrorism that aims at plunging the world into an abyss of hate and pain”.
“Jewish tradition says that in human history in any generation there are always 36 Righteous that guarantee continuity”. explained Giorgio Mortara. “Knowing and telling the stories of those opposing the darkness in the different periods of our recent past is an opportunity that helps us to understand the value of the freedom we have won”.
By Daniel Reichel