The Italian Jewish community is appealing for aid to help restore synagogues and other Jewish properties in several cities that were damaged in the earthquakes that struck northern Italy May 20 and 30. The quakes killed at least 24 people, left thousands homeless and caused widespread damage to art and architectural heritage.
According to a report released by the Union of Italian Jewish Communities, synagogue buildings in Ferrara, Modena, Mantova, Sabbioneta and Soragna suffered damage, and tombstones were damaged in three Jewish cemeteries — Ferrara, Cento and Lugo. In Mantova, roof tiles of the synagogue were displaced, cracks appeared in some walls and some plasterwork and stucco decorations fell away. In Modena, the tympanum over the entrance to the synagogue was damaged as well as the railing in front of the bimah; the floor shifted and was cracked. Walls, the entrance to the women’s gallery, the Ark and other features were damaged at the 18th century synagogue in Soragna, which is now a Jewish museum.
“The Jewish communities in the towns, along with their members, were affected by the occurrences,” the Union of Italian Jewish Communities said in a statement. It said several major Jewish properties were “severely damaged” in the quakes. “The community of Italy is trying to estimate the damages caused by the earthquake and to evaluate the cost,” it said. “This estimation is difficult since new waves of earthquakes are happening and might be happening more in the future.”
It said, “UCEI anticipates that the immediate and long-term needs will be profound and is coordinating with its in-country representatives to respond as well.”
It noted that the Jewish community of Italy had granted 50,000 euro to the population in general affected by the catastrophe.
“However,” it said, “there is a need of appeal for assistance in providing funds for the rich Jewish heritage property that has been damaged and it could be destroyed if it is not restored.”