In 1943, when Nazi Germany occupied Italy and started deporting local Jews to concentration camps, it also plundered gold, art, and historic and cultural artefacts.
Among the treasures was the library of the Italian Rabbinical School in Rome, which included centuries-old books, and was sent to Germany. After the war, the books were retrieved in Frankfurt and returned.
Now, many of those volumes, which date back to a period between the 16th and 19th century, are in desperate need of restoration. So the Union of Italian Jewish Communities (UCEI) has launched a crowdfunding campaign to restore its collection.
The library includes material saved during the 1966 flood of Florence. The city’s Jewish community was profoundly affected by the flood: among others, about 100 Torah scrolls, some of them centuries old, were damaged beyond repair.
Rome’s chief rabbi, Riccardo Di Segni, said: “This collection features many different kinds of books, including unique responsa by Italian Jews.”