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Italian Jews raising funds from income tax payments

ROME, May 28 (JTA) — Italy’s Jewish community has launched a fund-raising campaign aimed at capitalizing on a new tax law. An ad campaign has been urging Italians to take advantage of a new law that for the first time allows them to allocate a tiny percentage of their income tax payments to the Union of Italian Jewish Communities. This option long has existed for other religious organizations such as the Roman Catholic Church. “It has a great civic value and doesn’t cost anything,” read a full-page advertisement in an Italian magazine this month. Such contributions would “give new breath to a culture and a heritage that belongs to everyone, to strengthen the defense of minorities against intolerance and prejudice,” said the ad, which was sponsored by the Jewish umbrella group. The ad states that Italy’s 30,000 Jews comprise a minority that is too small “to care for the great patrimony of monuments, libraries, works of art and historic archives that form part of Italy’s cultural heritage. Tullia Zevi, president of the union, also issued an open letter to the Italian public urging them to contribute to the Jewish community as a means of fighting racism and fostering democracy and pluralism in the country. Zevi said the initial response to the appeal had been “very positive,” but other Jewish observers said there was no way of knowing how much the unprecedented appeal would raise.