Italian Jewish community elects new leader

17 July , 2006

Italy's Jewish community has elected Renzo Gattegna as it's new leader. Renzo Gattegna, a 67-year-old lawyer was elected to head the Union of Italian Jewish Communities on 16 July. He replaces Claudio Morpurgo, who returns to the vice presidency after serving as president following the resignation of the previous president, Amos Luzzatto, for health reasons.

Italian Jewish leaders also decided to organize the rally to show solidarity with Israel amid increasing Middle Eastern violence. The Jewish Union's council, which elected Gattegna, also called on the Italian government to press for the release of kidnapped Israeli soldiers as well as to work for the disarming of Hezbollah guerrillas who have been launching attacks against Israel, the Italian news agency Apcom said.

There are about 30,000 Jews in Italy which is predominately Roman Catholic, and community leaders have been waging a campaign against anti-Semitism. Last week, a swastika and other graffiti were scrawled on doors and walls in a Jewish neighborhood in Rome as soccer fans filled the city's streets to celebrate Italy's World Cup triumph. Recently elected Prime Minister Romano Prodi condemned the graffiti and promised intolerance for such gestures.

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