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January 22: Tullia Zevi and the Jews of Italy

January 22, 2016

tullia_zeviTullia Zevi, who was among the few women journalists to report on the Nuremberg war crimes trial in 1946 and served as president of the Union of Italian Jewish Communities from 1983 to 1998, died at 91 on this date in 2011. Born Tullia Calabi in Milan, she was in Switzerland with her family in 1938 when Mussolini adopted anti-Semitic racial laws, which led them to emigrate to France and then New York. There she met and married Bruno Zevi, a modernist architect, and the two became deeply involved in anti-fascist activity. “An outspoken critic of intolerance,” wrote Rachel Donadio in the New York Times, “Ms. Zevi believed that the Jews of Europe should stand in solidarity with the Muslims of Europe against currents of racism and xenophobia.... Such views did not always make her popular with Italy’s politically conservative Jews. Nor did her handshake with Yasir Arafat when he spoke at Rome’s City Hall in 1996.” Zevi was the Italy correspondent for the London Jewish Chronicle (1948-63) and for Israel’s Maariv (1960-93). She played a major role in improving relationships between the Vatican and the Jewish world during the era of Pope John Paul II.

“We are also what we remember. We are made of our memories. A person who lives only in the present and has not a full consciousness of what lies behind his back is not fully human.” —Tullia Zevi