Italian Rabbis Resist Fascist Demands to Sever World Ties

SPIRITED RESISTANCE TO RECENTLY VOICED DEMANDS IN HIGH FASCIST CIRCLES THAT THE JEWS OF ITALY DIVORCE THEMSELVES FROM THEIR CORELIGIONISTS IN OTHER COUNTRIES WAS EXPRESSED TODAY IN AN UNPRECEDENTED MESSAGE SIGNED BY ALL THE RABBIS OF ITALY, TRIPOLI AND THE AEGEAN ISLANDS.

THE MESSAGE, “FROM THE RABBIS OF ITALY TO THEIR BRETHREN,” IS THE FIRST SUCH DOCUMENT TO BE PUBLISHED IN ITALO-JEWISH HISTORY. THE NAME OF CHIEF RABBI DAVID PRATO OF ROME HEADED THE LIST OF SIGNERS.

EMPHASIZING THAT “JUDAISM IS A UNIQUE WHOLE,” THE MESSAGE CONDEMNED JEWISH ELEMENTS IN ITALY WHICH, UNDER THE INFLUENCE OF EXTREMIST FASCIST IDEOLOGY, SEEK TO GIVE THEIR OWN INTERPRETATIONS OF JUDAISM AND TO CREATE A REFORMIST SYNAGOGUE IN ITALY DIVORCED FROM THE REMAINDER OF THE WORLD’S JUDAISM.

“IF THE JEWS CONSERVE THEIR FAITH,” THE MESSAGE SAID, “IF WE DO NOT OFFEND OTHER RELIGIOUS SENTIMENTS, IF WE MAINTAIN FIDELITY TO OUR HISTORIC MISSION, WE DO NOT THEREFORE FAIL TO FULFILL OUR DUTY. NO ONE HAS A RIGHT TO DOUBT OUR FIDELITY AND LOYALTY; NO ONE CAN PREVENT US FROM BEING SINCERE TO OURSELVES.”

REFERRING TO PERSECUTION OF JEWS IN OTHER COUNTRIES, THE RABBIS DECLARED THAT LOYAL CITIZENSHIP AND FAITHFUL SERVICE TO THE STATE, FREQUENTLY CARRIED TO THE POINT OF SELF-ANNIHILATION, HAVE NOT COUNTED IN THEIR FAVOR.

“THE CRIES OF ‘DOWN WITH THE JEWS,” THEY SAID, “HAVE RESOUNDED TOO MANY TIMES AND IN TOO MANY PLACES FOR US NOT TO SEEK AN ADEQUATE SOLUTION OF THE PROBLEM. THIS SOLUTION IS COMING.”

IT IS NOT THE BUSINESS OF THE JEWS, THE RABBIS ADDED, TO EXAMINE THE MERITS OR DEMERITS OF A NATIONAL HOME IN PALESTINE UNDER LEAGUE OF NATIONS OR OF THE PROPOSAL TO PARTITION THE HOLY LAND, DECLARING THEIR SUCCESS TO BE EXCLUSIVELY DEPENDENT ON THE MERITS ISRAEL GAINS BY OBSERVANCE OF THE TORAH.

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