In the history of Italy, going back 2000 years, Jews were living in Italy... and were either killed, forced to be baptized as Catholics, or run out of the country entirely. Jews arrived in Italy originally as slaves from Jerusalem, with the southern ports of Italy providing a pathway for the “diaspora” to flow even further into Western Europe.
My line of the Finzi family tree is Catholic, and with certainty converted to Catholicism to avoid certain death or banishment from their home in Puglia. This might have happened between 500 – 1000 years ago… perhaps as far back as when the Kingdom of Naples took over Puglia in the 13th century or even further back in the 9th century when the Byzantine Empire tried to convert everyone to Christianity.
The written history of early Jews who converted to Catholicism seems to be lost to time. The history of Jews who were successful in their migration into northern Italy and into Italian culture is well documented. Both are valid limbs of the Finzi family tree. From these limbs, grew even more branches as there are Finzis all around the world: Italy, France, Spain, England, Brazil, Bulgaria, Morocco… and I am certain there are more...
In these days when some people try to label we Americans as Red or Blue or "us" and "them" or black and white, native born versus immigrant, or Christian and Muslim, it's important to think about where hatred of a group of people can lead. As for the Finzi Family from Rome immortalized on these stepping stones, their ultimate end proves that mankind can still slip back into the abyss from time to time. These tiles are a reminder not to let that happen... ever again. Never.
Here is a link to the original blog article about the Finzi stepping stones, "An Unexpected Path": https://ginnyblanford.wordpress.com/tag/stolpersteine/
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