A Syrian family arrived in Milan, Italy, on Tuesday. They are the first group of refugees that is sponsored by the Union of Italian Jewish Communities (UCEI) and the Jewish Community of Milan, as part of the humanitarian corridors project.
The humanitarian corridors projects allows for communities to sponsor refugees and thus secure their relocation to Europe. It was started in 2016 in Italy by the Community of Sant'Egidio, the Federation of Evangelical Churches in Italy (FCEI) and the Waldensian Roundtable - three Christian organizations. Now, the number of religions involved in the project is expanding.
For the first time, on Tuesday in Milan, refugees arrived that were sponsored by Jewish organizations -- the Union of Italian Jewish Communities (UCEI) and the Jewish Community of Milan.
Jewish community hosts Syrian refugees
They welcomed a Muslim family coming from Aleppo, Syria. The family is made up of seven people -- parents, four children, and a relative. The members of UCEI and the Jewish Community of Milan will collaborate with Sant'Egidio to help the family settle into their new life in Milan.
Sant'Egidio said the "alliance between communities of believers that have participated in the project is thus expanded."
The Community of Sant'Egidio has welcomed 2,400 refugees in Italy so far through humanitarian corridor. These refugees are Syrians fleeing the civil war -- 86 more will arrive at Fiumicino airport in Rome on Friday -- as well as refugees from the Horn of Africa.
The humanitarian corridors project is also active in France, Belgium, and Andorra.
'Obligation to help others'
Why did the Jewish community in Italy decide to host refugees? Giorgio Mortara, UCEI vice president, said there are "many passages in the Torah that refer to the obligation to help others, strangers."
He explained, quoting from the Jewish holy book: "'If your brother becomes poor ... you have to support him: whether a foreigner or a resident, so they can continue to live among you (Lev 25:35)'.It is clear from the last words that the first term 'brother' must have universal acceptance. The hardship of those who come from abroad is a sensitive point for the Jews, called as we are by our own historical experience."
'Join together to build bridges'
The president of the Jewish Community of Milan, Milo Hasbani, said the community is "always ready to get involved when it is to actively help others."
Giorgio Del Zanna of the Community of Sant'Egidio said "we must join forces to respond to a dual enormous crisis -- the war in Syria and the inability of European nations to provide adequate responses to migration."
He added: "In a climate marked by the logic of walls and growing antisemitism, an efficient response is the solid friendship of communities of believers who join together to build bridges. This is the spirit in which Jews and Christians welcome this Muslim family."