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Italian Jews salute ex-lawmaker Nirenstein before she moves to Israel

ROME (JTA) – Rome Jewish community leaders praised Fiamma Nirenstein, a journalist and former Italian Parliament member, in a sendoff ahead of her move to Israel.

The Rome Jewish Community board, along with representatives of other Jewish organizations and the Israeli ambassador to Italy, toasted Nirenstein on Friday at a ceremony ahead of the Sabbath.

The Florence native was scheduled to move permanently to Israel over the weekend.

“Her contribution in the last legislature was decisive, and not to be able to see her sitting in Parliament anymore is, for us, an insurmountable loss,” Rome Jewish Community President Riccardo Pacifici said.

At the ceremony, Italy’s B’nai B’rith chapter presented Nirenstein with its silver medal.

Nirenstein was elected to Parliament in April 2008 as a member of the center-right People of Freedom ticket headed by former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi. During her tenure there, she was outspoken in support of Israel and in combating anti-Semitism.

“Now I’m making aliyah, and even if I have worked as a journalist in Israel for 20 years, this is a different step,” said Nirenstein, who is married to an Israeli.

She announced her intention to make aliyah in January.

Earlier this month she told Ynet, “At a certain point in the life of every Jew, he must decide if he is choosing Zionism and a connection to Israel as part of his life, and if the answer is yes, then he can’t just settle for statements. If you believe in something, you must also do it.”

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