At the end of 1943, in the last period of the Second World War, dozens of young Jews were hidden in the Villa Emma estate in Nonantola, a municipality in the province of Modena. In this way, after the armistice of Cassibile on 8 September, the young Jews were rescued from Nazi deportation. This episode remained in the heart of an Israeli from Zikhron Ya’aqov, a small Israelite town of 17,000 inhabitants, who chose the way of gratitude. In the Israeli small town of Rosh HaAyn a park was inaugurated in the name of the Italian town: and it is there that the man, who wants to remain anonymous, learned the story about Villa Emma, personally getting in touch with the mayor of Modena town to donate 200 euros per month to two families in need. “We did not expect it, not in such a difficult circumstance for everyone – admits the vice-mayor of Nonantola, Gian Luca Taccini – We were pleasantly surprised at so much generosity”.
However, the benefactor asks for two conditions. The first one, the beneficiaries have to be in really need, and the second one, they have to receive the money directly into their bank account without intermediaries. So, thanks also to the help of social services, the beneficiaries have been identified: an old woman, without a family and with health problems, and an adult man, known in his town for his commitment to voluntary work. “My son lost his job because of the Coronavirus, still today he has not found another permanent contract. We need this to keep going – says the 70-year-old mother – We feel flattered. In a world full of hate, it is difficult to find people ready to lend a hand to others without asking for anything in return”. The donation, which began with the first 400 euros in July, currently has no deadline. “We do not know what the developments will be – adds Taccini – However, we talked about a medium-long term period to the benefactor. Every month he wants to know if money has arrived, if the two people have withdrawn it or if there are any problems”.
But solidarity in Nonantola did not stop at Villa Emma. Over the years, the municipality has continued to be welcoming towards the weakest, such as asylum seekers and migrants, thanks to the intervention of different associations present locally. “The commitment of Villa Emma Foundation is essential, which continues to document what happened during the war – adds the vice-mayor – The last project that will start in 2021 is to create a place of memory, ‘Davanti a Villa Emma’ (In front of Villa Emma) that will appear in Prato Galli, land that is exactly in front of the estate: it will tell the story of the kids of Villa Emma, but it will also talk about all the experiences of nowadays, of all the people who had to leave their home and were hosted and helped by Nonantola”.