Italy’s Chief Rabbi Warns Italian Jewry Threatened by Assimilation

Chief Rabbi Elio Toaff of Italy told today a conference of European rabbis at Ostia near here that Italian Jewry was threatened by assimilation, and joined his colleagues in urging an improvement and expansion of Jewish education. Rabbi Toaff said: “We have no young rabbis. Our youth is being attracted by secular ideologies, non-Jewish as a rule.” He added however that, “despite all of our difficulties we have 2,400 pupils in Jewish day schools in Rome and Milan alone.” The conference was addressed by rabbis from several countries and by Italian Jewish lay leaders. Dr. Jacob Kaplan, Chief Rabbi of France, said the Vatican Council’s Conciliar Statement on the Jews five years ago has had a positive influence. But he maintained that ultimately, the fight against anti-Semitism depended on the spread of Jewish knowledge and attachment to Israel. Chief Rabbi Moses Rosen of Rumania said Rumanian Jewry was strongly attached to the Holy Land as an article of faith. He said the way to preserve Jewish values was through sound Jewish education. A group of the rabbis conducted a service in the remains of a first-century synagogue, the first Jewish service conducted in Ostia in 1,700 years.

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