italian commemoration kkl jnf 1.
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A ceremony dedicating the Forest of the Italian Righteous Gentiles was attended by the Mayor of Rome, the Italian Ambassador to Israel, KKL-JNF World Chairman, representatives of KKL-JNF Italy and members of the Italian government.
The forest, within the Modi'in Forest was established through the Italian Jewish community and the municipality of Rome in commemoration of the actions of Italian Righteous Gentiles who saved many Jews during the Holocaust. A similar forest is to be planned in the center of Rome to commemorate courageous people who endangered and sometimes lost their lives, to save Jews.
KKL-JNF World Chairman, Efi Stenzler, greeted the guests at the ceremony. "We are standing at one of the most important historical sites in Israel, in the place where Judah the Maccabee fought ancient Rome. Israel does not have many friendly neighbors, but when I visited Rome I felt the extent of the wonderful relations between our two peoples. I was able to see that the Mayor of Rome is a true friend of the Jews, of Israel and of KKL-JNF. My thanks go to all the delegates from Italy who have come to visit our country."
"The monasteries in Rome that offered a refuge to more than 4,500 Jews of Rome were the only ones that worked to save their Jewish neighbors. They worked with great courage and good-heartedness, while endangering their own lives. These are the Righteous Gentiles and we plant this forest in Modi'in in their honor as a symbol of the ancient Jewish commandment "Love thy neighbor as thyself."
Gianni Alemano, Mayor of Rome, spoke with much meaning. "Trees are a spiritual and material symbol that represent life and memory. The continued existence of humanity depends upon trees and there is no better way to commemorate those who worked to save other people. The forest in commemoration of the Righteous Gentiles that will be dedicated in the center of Rome will honor those brave people and transmit an educational message to the younger generation."
Raffaele Sassun, president of KKL-JNF in Italy, stated. "During the past year many people worked together to strengthen cooperation and the efforts of the Mayor of Rome were felt constantly. Our congratulations go to the entire city of Rome who made these efforts to commemorate the Holocaust by planting a forest. KKL-JNF has always represented the connection between the past and the future promise of the coming generations. The commemoration of the memories of the Righteous Gentiles is our obligation. Those people endangered their lives in order to save Jews, and proved that the human soul has not vanished in the darkest times. The forest that we dedicate here today will accompany Israel in a future of peace and security."
KKL-JNF emissary in Italy Refael Ovadia, added. "This forest represents the excellent connection that we have with Rome and Italy. There are already ten olive trees planted in Rome in cooperation between the City of Rome and KKL-JNF as a sign of friendship between Italy and Israel. A forest in honor of Righteous Gentiles will be planted in Rome connected to this forest that was planted in Modi'in in their memory to represent the courageous connection between the Italian and the Jewish peoples."
The Italian Ambassador to Israel, Luigi Mattiolo, spoke of the connection between the two countries that began thousands of years ago and has become stronger. "Today the connection is expressed in various areas: cultural and economic, as well as simple human contacts between people. The planting of a Forest in Commemoration of Righteous Gentiles in Israel and Rome is a very special symbol between us." The ambassador read the Planters' Prayer and the KKL-JNF World Chairman and the Mayor of Rome planted a tree together in the Forest of the Italian Righteous Gentiles.
The mayor of Rome continued his visit to Israel, embarking on an aerial tour of various projects that Friends of KKL-JNF Rome support, including Park Italy in Nahal Alexander, Halutziyot settlements for Gush Katif evacuees, the city of Sderot, Yatir Forest, Givat Hagamal overlooking the Gaza border where KKL-JNF established a recognition site for Friends of KKL-JNF Italy.
During his visit to Sderot a qassam rocket attack siren was heard and a rocket landed in Sderot, causing Alemano to remark that the situation in Sderot was impossible and that it must not continue. "Fundamentalist Islam has become a problem of the entire Western World not only of the State of Israel. We must do everything we can to stop it."
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