Danger of Assimilation Stressed at Congress of Italian Jewish Communities

The fifth congress of the Union of Italian Jewish Communities called today for a census among Italy’s Jews to establish their exact number as well as other information concerning them. Current estimates place them at 30,000.

In a series of resolutions, the congress stressed the importance of creating new Jewish schools and publishing textbooks for them, urged the inclusion of women in the councils of the institutions of Italian Jewry and elected a new Council of the Union composed of three rabbis, 14 laymen and one woman, Tullia Zevia.

Earlier, Chief Rabbi Elio Toaff warned the delegates of the danger of assimilation in Italy due to ignorance of Jewish traditions, indifference to them and to the fact that many active Jews had left for Israel. One of the resolutions of the congress hailed Israel as the center of the Jewish people, expressed hope of peace between Israel and the Arab states and urged Italy to intervene in an attempt to promote a peace settlement.

Milan Jewish Community president Giuseppe Ottolenghi spoke to the delegates on the disappearance of small Jewish communities in Italy and the atrophy of medium-sized communities. He stressed the positive value of cultural institutions in the battle against assimilation. Other speakers praised the Joint Distribution Committee’s work in Italy and the activities of the Keren Hayesod and of the World Jewish Congress.

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