Dal Canada con Amore: Italian and Jewish communities in Toronto join forces

Thanks to the leadership, initiative and generosity of Walter Arbib of Skylink Aviation, UJA Federation of Greater Toronto, the Canadian Jewish Congress Charities Committee and the Abruzzo Earthquake Relief Fund will accept and send medicine valued at $-------to San Vittorino Hospital in  L’Aquila which is operating as a “tent hospital” following the earthquake.

Born in Libya, Mr. Arbib found refuge in Italy at a young age and lived there for many years before moving to Canada.

“I consider myself to be equally Italian and Jewish, and Canadian to boot,” states Mr. Arbib.  “I feel this project is a unique opportunity to give back and assist the country that gave me, and so many others, a second chance all those years ago – a kind of friendship without borders.”

This is not the first time the Jewish and Italian communities have collaborated.  In 2004, Villa Charities and numerous Jewish groups celebrated the life of Giorgio Perlasca, an Italian credited with saving the lives of thousands of Jews in Hungary during World War II.

In fact, many small towns in the affected areas of Abruzzo such as Fossa ,Ofena , and Casentino sheltered Jews from the Nazis.

“Our communities have enjoyed a long-standing friendship and our shared values dictate that we must protect the most vulnerable among us. The fact that Mr. Arbib was welcomed by Italy when he was forced to flee persecution as a Jew, is a testament to those values and we are very pleased to play a role in helping those affected by the earthquake,” said UJA Federation Board Chair David Koschitzky.

“The Jewish community has a well-established tradition of extending a hand to those in need,” said David Katz, Chair of Canadian Jewish Congress Charities Committee. “We hope that this contribution will speed the recovery of those who have been affected by the earthquake.”

The medicine will be shipped to Abruzzo in the coming days and was selected and approved by the Italian government.

“On behalf of the thousands of people in Abruzzo who will heal faster and better because of this medicine, I thank Walter Arbib, UJA Federation and Canadian Jewish Congress for their kindness, leadership and humanity in time of need,” states Senator Con Di Nino, chair, AERF. 

About AERF
The purpose of the Abruzzo Earthquake Relief Fund (AERF) is to receive funds which will be used to aid in the reconstruction of the areas most affected by the earthquake. 

We are grateful to the organizations participating in AERF, including: Villa Charities family of organizations, Villa Colombo, VITA Community Living Services, Mens Sana, Columbus Centre, Villa Colombo Vaughan, in addition to Canadian Italian Business & Professional Association, Centro Scuola e Cultura Italiana, Italian Chamber of Commerce of Toronto, Associazione Culturale Abruzzo Canada, Casa Abruzzo, Order of Sons of Italy of Canada, Italian Canadian Savings and Credit Union, and other members and leaders of the Italian community. 

For more information on AERF and to learn the many ways to donate, visit www.abruzzoearthquakerelieffund.ca

About UJA:
UJA Federation of Greater Toronto is the Jewish community’s key fundraising, planning, allocations and infrastructure improvement organization - one of Canada’s largest non-profit entities representing the most sizeable Jewish population in the country of 200,000 people. Through its beneficiary agencies, UJA Federation provides a multitude of  social welfare and educational services.

About CJC Charities Committee:
The Canadian Jewish Congress Charities Committee helps to foster a stronger Jewish community through a variety of charitable activities which support Jewish communal life. The Charities Committee works to develop educational, interfaith and inter-cultural opportunities for Canadian Jewry and strives for tolerance, understanding and goodwill among all segments of society in a multicultural Canada. The committee also works on humanitarian and social justice issues that affect the Jewish community and Canadian society at large.


Media Inquiries:

Lori D’Amore                                                             Sally Szuster
Villa Charities                                                             UJA Federation
416-789-7011 ext. 320                                                416-840-2988
ldamore@villacharities.com                                       sszuster@ujafed.org


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