The President of the Italian Republic Sergio Mattarella visited the Great Synagogue of Rome last week.
Mattarella gave an off-the-cuff speech, wishing the audience, who included many young children and students from the community school, “lechaim” and “Shabbat shalom”.
The president also took the opportunity to launch a message of awareness to all Italian society.
“The contribution offered by the Jewish community – he said – is crucial in the history of Italy. But this has not always been understood”. The reference was in particular to the “shame” of the racist laws promulgated 82 years ago by the fascist regime and all that they generated.
Those rights were denied in general indifference, and later reaffirmed in the Italian Constitution.
Among the Jewish figures who have left a mark Mattarella mentioned rabbi Elio Toaff and the former UCEI presidents Tullia Zevi and Renzo Gattegna.
In his speech, the President of the Republic also shared some memories of his youth. “When I was a boy, I lived in Rome for a long time and felt Roman. But since elementary school some classmates told me an old saying, according to which it takes seven generations born in Rome to be Roman. You have 2,200 years behind you. There are very few – he emphasized – who can feel more Roman than you”.
Mattarella was given some challah, the Saturday bread, and wore a special kippah carrying the logo of the Presidency of the Republic. The president of the Jewish community Ruth Dureghello and the Chief Rabbi Riccardo Di Segni also spoke. Attending the event were also the members of the Community Council, representatives of various Jewish organizations and UCEI President Noemi Di Segni.