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Wednesday, January 27, 2010 - Wednesday, February 10, 2010


Un giorno con Lucia

by Olivia Fincato and Renato D’Agostin


Un giorno con Lucia On the occasion of the Holocaust Memorial Day 2010, the Embassy of Italy and the Istituto present:

Un giorno con Lucia

The exhibition will be on view through February 10, 2010

A book based on the encounter with Lucia Servadio Bedarida, the youngest female doctor in Italy who became the first woman physician in Morocco, mindful of 106 years of life. In 1939 Lucia escaped to Tangier because of the introduction in Italy of the racial laws, which affected her whole family. After 40 years of work as a gynecologist in Morocco, she joined her daughters in United States. Her mother and grandmother were deported and killed at Auschwitz. Lucia donated their last letters, written from Fossoli Camp, to the US Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, DC. The event includes the presentation of the book "Un giorno con Lucia" and the projection of the video “Mama Rida” by Olivia Fincato Guests will also be able to visit the photo exhibit by Renato D’Agostin consisting of portraits of Lucia Servadio Bedarida.

The exhibition will be on view through February 10, 2010

Lucia’s daughters, Mirella and Paola Bedarida, will participate to the event, together with Claudia Davidson, Lucia’s granddaughter, and doctor Ioana Razi, whose career path was inspired by Lucia’s wisdom.

Please Note: Picture ID required


To view this exhibition, during our office hours, please email us at
For each person wishing to view this exhibit, please list: name, date and time (within our business hours). Your can find more info and directions here.


I would like to thank all of You to be here today for this event organized  by the Italian Embassy and the Italian Cultural Institute on occasion of the Day of the Remembrance.
First of all let me to express, though, my heartfelt thanks to Mirella Bedarida and Paola Bedarida the daughters of  “mama Rida”,
to Claudia Davidson, her grand-daughter and to Joana Razi who, as a doctor, has been a pupil and a friend of Lucia Servadio Bedarida.
Among the many friends who are today here with us I want also to express our gratitude for their help and encouragement in articular to:
Sarit Arbel, Director of Cultural Affairs at the Embassy of Israel;
Jaime Monllor of the Registry of Holocaust Survivers
Stephen Marcus of the Jewish Cultural Center in Washington DC
Bret Werb of the Holocaust Museum,
Murray Horwitz

Last but not least, my special thanks to the authors of the documentary on Mama Rida , Olivia Fincato e Renato D’Agostin, to Paolo Valentino of Corriere della Sera who has enriched this event with the moving documentary “Fratelli d’Italia” and, of course, to Rita Venturelli who has worked hard to organize this event. 

The tragedy of the Holocaust is deeply rooted in the consciousness of the Italian People. Ten years ago, the Italian Parliament passed a law making January 27 the “Day of Remembrance”.
Since then, the date of January 27 (which in 2005 was recognized also by the United Nations) has become an important occasion for commemoration and reflection both in Italy – through parliamentary and institutional events – and abroad, through similar initiatives organized by Italian Embassies, Consulates and Cultural Institutes.

Indeed, the day of remembrance is not only a way to renew our feelings of deep respect and affection for the victims, but also an appeal to learn from the past. Reflecting on the Shoà should reinforce our determination to look at shared values; to build a future of peaceful and enriched coexistence among different religious, ethnical, cultural and political identities. Memory of the past is truly an essential element for reflecting on our own identities, on our relations with the “other”.  History is thus memoria futuri.
An American scholar, David Campbell, wrote that genocide cannot be analyzed simply through a “logic of explanation”, that is to say, by identifying self-evident realities and material causes by means of “historical narratives”.
The criminals who used Lagers to deprive human beings of their humanity, as Primo Levi said, have always tended to fabricate a "convenient reality" of invented memories as a substitute for the heinous acts that they committed.
They identified the “other” using a cultural construction, to perpetuate logics of exclusion; and this is not only past History.
In stark contrast to such fabrications, Elie Wiesel expressed the profound meaning of the remembrance in his masterwork, “Night”, without any space for compromise:  
“Never shall I forget that night, the first night in camp, which has turned my life into one long night, seven times cursed and seven times sealed. Never shall I forget that smoke. Never shall I forget the little faces of the children, whose bodies I saw turned into wreaths of smoke beneath a silent blue sky.
Never shall I forget those moments which murdered my God and my soul and turned my dreams to dust”.

In speaking about Night, Wiesel said: "I wanted to show the end, the finality of the event. Everything came to an end - man, history, literature, religion, God. There was nothing left. And yet we begin again with night." This allows us a deeper appreciation of the  book’s title, marking the transition from darkness to light, according to the Jewish tradition of beginning a new day at nightfall.
This need “to begin again” is at the root of an ever-greater need to bear witness.
We are glad that Elie Weisel accepted the invitation of the Speaker  the Hon. Gianfranco Fini to address today a special session of the Italian Parliament.
The session has been attended by the President of the Italian Republic, the Hon. Giorgio Napolitano, and by the Premier Silvio Berlusconi, underscoring how intensely my country commemorates this day.
While across Italy, the events planned for January 27 offer a variety of perspectives on this turning point in History, Italian institutions in the United States are engaged in book presentations, concerts, seminars on topics such as Italian Women Writing the Holocaust: Protagonists of the Aftermath, and documentaries such as Auschwitz, The final Witness. Other programs involve Universities, such as the one in Boston, with a Conference on Jewish Life in Italy and the Need to Remember. In this context many events are taking place from the East Coast (Washington, New York, Newark, Philadelphia, Boston, Miami), to the Midwest (Detroit, Cleveland, Ann Arbor) and stretch all the way to the West Coast (Los Angeles, San Francisco).

My commitment – as Ambassador of Italy – is to make certain that the Day of Remembrance acquires an ever-greater relevance in our diplomatic and cultural action in the United States.
Tonight’s presentation is dedicated to the extraordinary “life of giving” of Lucia Servadio Bedarida.
Watching the documentary on “mama Rida’s” life, my thoughts turned again to Elie Wiesel’s “Night” when he explores two central questions: what is the relationship between our personal stories and our identities? To what extent can we be true messengers of humanity?
The experience of Lucia underlines that it is still possible to begin again, even after darkness: she has been a messenger of humanity helping – as a doctor - her neighbors whom she never regarded as “others”.
Living in an Arab country and helping Arab women, mama Rida   proved that mutual understanding and coexistence can go beyond the logic of exclusion based on falsely constituted identities.
And it is precisely in these false identities that she perceived the “banality of evil”.
Her courage and motivations can be better understood in the light of an existential dimension that Primo Levi defined that of “the Drowned and the Saved”. In his last book Levi focused on the issues of memory, truth, and the many ways in which they are simultaneously unearthed and obscured. Writing about the past, Primo Levi refers to the present and future. The Drowned and the Saved ends with the appeal for wisdom and action.
Being one of the “Saved” Lucia bore witness of “the Drowned” - among them her own mother and grandmother killed in Auschwitz - aware that the “memory of the night” is a way to begin again.
She wanted to be a “messenger of humanity” to break the cycle of unspeakable anguish. Her example will continue to help us in  rescuing many unknown “Drowned” who still populate Human History.  
It is a great lesson – suspended between darkness and light. For this reason too, we feel privileged today to commemorate the “remembrance day of the Holocaust” through her “life of giving”.



Date: Wednesday, January 27, 2010 - Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Time: 10 am - 12:00 am and 2 pm - 4 pm / Mon. - Fri.

Venue: Auditorium of the Embassy of Italy, 3000 Whitehaven Street NW, Washington, DC 20008

Organized by: Italian Cultural Institute of Washington, DC and the Embassy of Italy

In collaboration with:


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