Milan community leader succumbs to coronavirus

Michele Sciama, who died on Monday, had been planning a charity fundraiser for the community.



The former leader of Milan’s Jewish community died on Monday of coronavirus.

Michele Sciama, 79, was known to those close to him as “Micky” and is survived by his wife and two daughters.

He was born in Cairo in May 1941, and spent time studying engineering in London before working as a business manager in Milan.

He was Secretary General of the Jewish Community of Milan, the city’s communal life organisational, between 1993 and 2007.

The Director of the Centre of Contemporary Jewish Documentation, an organisation that documents Nazi war crimes, wrote in the Italian Jewish magazine Moked that before he became sick, Mr Sciama was working on organising a charity fundraiser for the centre.

Gadi Luzzatto Voghera said that his organisation would “perform the concert in his name and in his memory, to honour his memory and to fight that virus that not only produces statistics, but deprives us of the presence of people, friends and brethren.”

Mr Sciama had been intimately involved in supporting Italy’s small Jewish education system, JTA reported. Claudia Bagnarelli, a former principal at the Jewish school of Milan, said that his death was “a great loss for the community.”

Jewish life in Italy is at a standstill, as synagogues, communal organisations and schools remain closed.

Milan, Italy’s financial capital, is home to Italy’s second largest Jewish community at around 11,000.

Milan and northern Italy have been the centre of the outbreak.

As of Tuesday morning, Italy had reported 27,980 cases, and 2,158 deaths, the most after China where the virus was first identified.

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