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A safeguard project for the Jewish literary heritage
An extraordinary collection of antique books, some of them priceless housed in the premises of UCEI’s Bibliographic Centre calls for rescuing and renovation. Leaving those volumes in the state they are in at the moment would lead to their irretrievable loss. The preservation of this literary heritage, which is an integral part of the history of Italian and European Jews, is an action of the utmost importance.
It can be neither transferred nor delayed and needs extensive rescuing since some courageous men have striven hard to save them over the course of time. These books have a fascinating history; some of them were part of the Library of the Italian Rabbinical Centre, the training college for all rabbis in Italy. During World War Two, German soldiers seized all the books in the library and brought them to Germany.
When the war ended, they were retrieved in Frankfurt and were finally brought back to Rome. Another part of this collection, which has been rescued from 1966 flood of the river Arno, has an equally compelling story. Different districts of Florence were flooded and many were the victims.
Thanks to the courageous work of rescuers from many Jewish communities from all over Italy, lots of precious and rare books were taken to safety. Regrettably, their state of preservation, already precarious when UCEI took them over, has further worsened over the years. Therefore, action must be taken immediately in order to save them.
The ravages of time make it hard to consult them and to understand how valuable they are. Therefore, it is necessary to arrange an intervention on all of the 8,000 books. Saving those books, most of which are rare and antique, would mean that the efforts made in the past to avoid their destruction have not been in vain.