I am a 37-year-old mother and I am part of the Jewish Community of San Nicandro. Since my childhood, I have grown up learning about Judaism and the Torah, which have shaped and formed me throughout my life. Through this, I have developed a very strong love for G-d.
While the environment around us is very different from the way in which we lead our lives, nonetheless I have found the inner strength to remain firm in my beliefs. One of the most important things was that I had the support of people who knew to guide me along the right path.
I am referring, of course, to the elders of our community. Since we are young, we represent the fruit of their efforts, which they planted long ago and which have now grown strong and beautiful. I thank G-d that this happened to us.I am grateful to the elders of the community, many of whom, sadly, have now begun to pass away. They are like candles that have begun to extinguish.
But we do our best to carry on their light and continue their task. Those elders went through poverty and hunger, but they had one big treasure: the Torah.
Until today, those elders – with tears in their eyes and happiness in their hearts – enable us to experience through their stories the moment when the Jewish people were liberated from the Nazi enemy by the American soldiers. And when the soldiers passed through our village, they were welcomed by the elders and especially by Donato Manduzio (who brought Judaism to San Nicandro), who greeted them with a flag of Israel.
Manduzio went up to the soldiers together with the kids of the community, and they sung a special hymn, which says:
I keep you here on my heart, I bear the stamp of my Creator.
The elders are our guides and instilled within us a pure and simple faith, which is carved for ever on our hearts.