ROME (Feb. 6)
Italy’s education minister has unveiled a video about Jewish religion, history and culture that will be distributed to high schools all over the country.
“This initiative is of great importance,” Education Minister Rosa Russo Jervolino told reporters at a news conference last week at which excerpts from the video were shown.
She said 10,000 videocassettes would be distributed to Italian schools.
Tullia Zevi, president of the Union of Italian Jewish Communities, who also took part in the news conference, said the Italian Jewish community considered the release of the video a significant development.
“We hope that it will be a pilot program leading to other educational initiatives,” she said.
“Prejudice is born of ignorance. In a democratic society, unity and diversity are both important. This film presents a small part of the Italian reality.
“Today, prejudice is being expressed against new immigrants. This video shows the 2,000-year continuity of Jews in Italy. It demonstrates a long coexistence that can be an example for new immigrants,” said Zevi.
The 70-minute video, titled “Who Are the Jews?” was produced by the Education Ministry in cooperation with the state television network, RAI, and the Jewish community.
Jewish leaders had lobbied for years to use educational material about the country’s Jews in Italy’s school system.
A panel of experts wrote the script and also assembled background literature that will also be used in the classroom.
Along with the video, complementary texts and teacher manuals will be distributed throughout the country.
About 40,000 Jews live in Italy out of a total population of 58 million. More than half the Jewish population lives in Rome and Milan.