Rome Synagogue Helps Local Refugees

By Bill Echikson, EUPJ Brussels Director

Members of Rome’s Beth Hillel synagogue donated five new laptops and six refurbished computers to Casa Africa, a local NGO that aids and supports African refugees. Thanks to these generous gifts, refugee students will be able to enrol in online Italian language and other courses.

Donation of laptops. The Beth Hillel Rome Tikkun Olam group at Casa Africa with
Gemma Del Vecchio, director of Casa Africa (2nd from left),
and Beth Hillel president, Daniela Gean (far right)

Beth Hillel, founded in 2013, has grown steadily since then and now counts 250 members. Its outreach to refugees is part of the community’s commitment to Tikkun Olam (Repairing the World).

HIAS, the global Jewish refugee aid organisation, and the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee provided funding and support through the refugee track of the “Tikkun in Action” programme.

One-on-one Italian language class at Casa Africa

The donation of the computers is only the first step in the synagogue’s plans for the future.

“As part of this project, we plan to offer refugees language tutoring, cooking classes, and educational and employment services,” says Fabio Benjamin Fantini, the project director from Beth Hillel.

“We must help African refugees to successfully integrate into Italian society and to sensitise our membership, including our B’Nei Mitzvah group, to the importance of Tikkun Olam as a Jewish value. By inviting local refugees to communal celebrations, we are introducing them to Jews and Judaism, which is a first for many of them. But it goes both ways and by doing this, we are promoting mutual understanding for all,” he says.

The Beth Hillel Rome Tikkun Olam group with its head, Liliana Naim (2nd from left)

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