Rabbi Dovid Lau
Rabbi Dovid LauPhoto by Miriam Alster/Flash90

Chief Rabbi of Israel Dovid Lau sent an urgent appeal on Thursday to Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, requesting his intervention in preventing the destruction of the ancient cemetery in the city of Mantova in Italy.

In the past, there was an important Jewish community in Mantova, in which great Torah scholars served and who are buried in the ancient cemetery of the city. Recently it became known to Rabbi Lau that the municipality of Mantova decided to establish a research project on the area of the cemetery and already began the demolition work.

"Italian Jewry is one of the oldest communities in Europe, dating back to the beginning of the first century AD," Rabbi Lau wrote in the letter.

"One of the cities that had a unique Jewish community is the city of Mantova. Within the clods of its earth - in the Jewish cemetery in this city lie the greatest luminaries of the Jewish nation. In terms of Jewish perception, cemeteries are valuable in their own right and must be treated with great holiness. According to Jewish law, a cemetery cannot be evacuated. Such activity is a serious injury to the deceased, and also in the cemetery lie the great rabbis of Italian Jewry, upon whose characters and teachings we educate throughout the Jewish world."

"I appeal to you from the depths of my heart to prevent this, and to instruct all parties to refrain from continuing this activity, because this issue is deeply embedded in our souls."

Rabbi Lau sent copies of the letter to the Chief Rabbi of Rome, Rabbi Riccardo Shmuel Di Segni and the President of the Italian Rabbis Conference, Rabbi Alfonso Pedatzur Arbib.