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Rome Jewish Community to Hold Elections; Rift Between Community Council and Chief Rabbi

August 23, 1944
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

The Jewish community here will hold its first elections since the liberation of the city within a month’s time when it will install a new council to assume control over Jewish communal affairs.

Authorization to hold elections to the Jewish Community Council was requested today from the Rome Jewish lawyer, Silvio Ottolenghi, designated by Lt. Colonel Charles Poletti of the Allied Military Government as commissioner for Jewish community affairs early in July when he dismissed the Council after a dispute between it and Chief Rabbi Israel Zolli.

At the same time, the Italian Government and members of the Jewish community are studying proposals to abolish the special legal status of the Jewish community, established under Mussolini’s decree of October 30, 1931, which in effect compelled all Jews to belong to the community, and which was invested with official power to tax its members. This peculiar status was given only to the Jewish and not to other religious minorities in Italy, and the administration of the community was made responsible to the government.

It. Col. Poletti dismissed the Jewish Council and appointed a commissioner to administer Jewish affairs following a bitter quarrel within the Rome Jewish community when the community council demanded Rabbi Zolli’s resignation charging him with going into hiding when the Germans occupied Italy. Rabbi Zolli, who was formerly the rabbi of Trieste, in turn accused the president of the Council, Ugo Foa, and other members of the Council of being fascists. Ottolenghi was named commissioner for the affairs of the Rome Jewish community at Rabbi Zolli’s recommendation.

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