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Monday, April 13, 2009

In Italy, heartwarming displays of gratitude

One of the values that we Jews attempt to instill in our children is called Hakarat HaTov, recognizing those who have done good for you. Here's a heartwarming story of a classic example from quake-ravaged northern Italy.
More than 65 years after villagers provided shelter to Italian Jews fleeing from the Nazis, a group of those who evaded capture rushed to repay that sacrifice in rural communities hard-hit by an earthquake.

A delegation of around 20 elderly Jews and their descendants — as well as community leaders — made their way to makeshift camps in the area around the mountain city of L'Aquila on Monday, peering into tents in a bid to find their saviors.

They offered everything from gym shoes to summer camps for children.


In the chaos of the relief efforts, Jews who had been sheltered in the area during the war lost touch with villagers, many of whom are simple farmers with no cell phones.

At least five Jewish families, around 30 people, took shelter in the small mountainside villages of Fossa and Casentino in mid-1943, when German forces began to take direct control of central and northern Italy. They remained there until the arrival of the Allies a year later.

In October 1943, a few weeks after the families left their native Rome, Nazi troops swept in on the capital's Old Ghetto neighborhood deporting more than 2,000 Jews. Only a handful survived the death camps.

The runaways initially hid in Fossa, about 10 miles (16 kilometers) from L'Aquila, but were forced to flee to the nearby village of Casentino when warned the Germans had learned of their presence.

"We left at night, it was winter and the snow was up to here," Emma Di Segni said, gesturing to her waist. "We stayed in a ruined house until a woman took us in."

Though they had fake documents and posed as refugees fleeing Allied bombings, their hosts knew who they were and were aware they could be executed if caught sheltering Jews, Di Segni said.

"They knew what they risked, but they never said anything," she recalled.
Read the whole thing.

Ironically, the only Israeli who was killed in the earthquake was an Israeli Arab. He was a medical student in the affected area and died when his dormitory collapsed.


At 12:18 AM, Blogger NormanF said...

Carl - if you want evidence Jews care for the value of an Arab life, that story was extensively followed in Israel. No one seemed to care that he wasn't a Jew.

Something to keep in mind the next time the Arabs and their overseas supporters accuse Israel of "racism."


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