Italian Jews rush to help quake victims


Jews across Italy have joined forces to help the victims of last week's devastating earthquake in central Italy.

The 6.2-magnitude quake hit a collection of hilltop towns in the regions of Umbria, Marche and Lazio at 3.36am on Wednesday August 24, killing at least 290 people and leaving more than 400 injured.

The same morning, the Union of Italian Jewish Communities (UCEI), the Jewish Community of Rome, the Jewish Medical Association of Italy and a group of Jewish donors, set up a blood donation centre at one of the main hospitals of Rome.

The UCEI also launched a fundraising campaign to help the victims.

"The images and stories that we are seeing in these hours are painful and terrible. Our thoughts and prayers go to the people hit by the earthquake. We want to express the full solidarity of the whole Italian-Jewish community, and we are also ready to help in a concrete and immediate way to confront the current state of emergency," said UCEI president, Noemi Di Segni.

The Jewish Community of Florence turned their weekly evening of concerts, lectures and performances held in the synagogue gardens - called Balagan Cafè - into a fundraising event for those affected by the quake.

Hundreds of students and young professionals participating in an international Jewish event in Rome gathered at the Great Synagogue to recite Psalms.

Israeli President Reuven Rivlin and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu both sent their condolences and messages of support to their Italian counterparts.

Israel's ambassador to Italy, Naor Gilon, personally went to donate blood.

Israeli relief organisation IsrAid sent 20 members of staff, including search-and-rescue experts and trauma specialists, into the disaster zone. The team reached Amatrice, population 2,000, about 48 hours after the earthquake.

Amatrice was the worst affected, with over 200 fatalities and half of the town's buildings destroyed. Until the quake, it was renowned for a famous, albeit non-kosher, pasta recipe - amatriciana, pasta with a sauce of tomatoes, pork cheeks and grated pecorino cheese.

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