Memories of Jewish Life: From Italy to Jerusalem, 1918-1960

By Augusto Segre; Steve Siporin | Go to book overview

CHAPTER SIX
Casalese Anti-Zionism

IL VESSILLO ISRAELITICO was published in Casale beginning in 1874, edited by Head Rabbi Flaminio Servi of Pitigliano, the same small Tuscan town where Dante Lattes was also born, in 1876.1 It is curious to observe how two rabbis who took positions that were so different and yet so committed, regarding Judaism, and Zionism in particular, came out of this small Community. The Vessillo was the periodical that exalted the devotion, loyalty, and dedication of Italians of the Israelite faith toward the House of Savoy and the Italian homeland—the philanthropic acts of coreligionists who were Cavalieri, Commendatori, industrialists, and professionals, and who were distinguished for their generosity not only toward the Community but also toward the parish closest to their homes, with donations from the living and substantial bequests from the dead. No event or news was overlooked as an opportunity to argue (maybe to convince themselves more than others) that by then there was no longer any difference or discrimination between the Jews and the rest of the population. In reading the Vessillo today one comes upon a certain mood, one that is almost funny and that overwhelms and carries away the Vessillo’s editors, who were occupied unceasingly with embroidering upon these themes with loving care and rhetoric. Not that they didn’t occasionally speak about Zionism, too; but they reduced Zionism and acknowledged it as a movement that was useful for those brothers and sisters who, poor wretches, still lived in countries where civil rights were trampled on, resolutely rejecting it for Italy, where Jews, enjoying the most complete freedom, now had a radiant future before them. At most one could be involved with this movement in only one way—giving do-

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