Carolina Delbourgo (left) with Levana Zamir
The exodus of Jews from Egypt in 1956 and the celebration of their food and culture was the topic of a conference held in Parma, Italy last week. It was attended by many interested non-Jews.
The conference took place at the beautiful ‘Casa della Musica’ in Parma, Italy, on 10 September, in the framework of “The European Day of Jewish Culture”, with its principal theme the ‘Expulsion of Jews from Egypt’.
It begun with a long and interesting lecture about the fate and tragedy of Jews under Nasser ‘s regime by Professoressa Emilia Marcella, writer and historian specialising in Middle East themes.
But the ‘main course’ served up was Carolina Delbourgo’s presentation of her book ‘Come ladri nella Notte – la Cacciata dell’Egitto’ (Like thieves in the night – the Expulsion from Egypt).
As Prof. Emilia said, Delbourgo wrote her book based on the memories of an 11- year-old child, without any trace of politics – just the truth about the expulsion as she went through it, when Egyptian officers came to her house on that day, November 28th 1956. As he was taken away to be detained in prison, her father asked her mother to pack just one bag and twenty pounds for each one of them, declaring that the bus would come at midnight to take them to Alexandria and thence onto a ship out of Egypt.
A report in a local paper
She recalled being on a bus full only of women and children, the Egyptian officers confiscating all gold jewellery including wedding rings. All were pushed into the Achyleos, full of expelled Jews with their families, where she found her father handcuffed until the boat had left Egyptian waters.
Carolina Delbourgo recalled the refugee camp at Brindisi in Italy – she revisited it 50 years later – the desarray of her parents, her aunt, her cousin and brother.
The large audience was captivated and wanted to hear more, but had then to go to another hall to taste the Jewish delicacies offered by the community of Parma.
Attending this important conference on the mass expulsion in November 1956 of Jews from Egypt were Victor Maggiar, president of the Jewish community of Italy, who came especially from Rome and Levana Zamir, president of the Jews from Egypt in Israel, also representing the Coalition of Organisations of Jews from Arab Countries. There were some 300 residents from Parma – many of them interested non-Jews – and many others.
This academic and instructive conference ended with a brilliant recital by Maestro Joshua Moretti, accompanied by videoclips. The concert was especially composed for the occasion.